On April 8, 2020, GoodID held a Twitter chat centered on COVID-19 and the wide-reaching implications of the global pandemic on various digital identity issues including privacy, human rights, e-government, inclusion/exclusion and user control. Women in Identity Co-Founder, Emma Lindley was one of several contributors leading the debate so we asked her what were her main takeaways from the afternoon’s discussions.
- There is increasing awareness of the need for digital identity across healthcare solutions. Pre-COVID19, this sector had been largely absent from Identity debates, most of which centred on government and financial services. Governments have to decide what personal data is needed to support clinical and public health needs – not the other way round.
- We’ve been talking about ‘Know Your Patient’ programmes for a while but the pandemic has also spawned a raft of tracking apps which need careful consideration. It’s not clear how effective many of these tracking apps actually are in helping slow down the disease. In order to work optimally, they require a high percentage of the population to download and use the app. There needs to be much greater transparency over what the incentive is – particularly if users are being asked to provide sensitive personal data. How will that information be used, today and in the future? And, most importantly, we need clear information over whether use of these apps is actually helping slow down infection and, ultimately, death rates.
- We need to ensure that tech developments to combat COVID19 do not cause surveillance risks and protect privacy. Access Now has released a series of human rights-centric recommendations on privacy and data protection in the fight against the disease, arguing that protecting digital rights also promotes public health. Governments must ensure that principles of data protection are upheld, particularly the anonymisation of patients/suspected infections by healthcare and security personnel.
- We need to focus much more on educating people about the strategic value of their “identity”. Education is critical and people are vulnerable right now – particularly those already marginalised or at risk of stigmatisation. If people do not understand what is happening with their data, neither policy nor protection law can ever work.
- Most significantly, governments need to be sure they have thought about the unintended consequences of introducing emergency measures too quickly. There is a danger that, in the haste to find solutions, we overlook the under-represented, minority groups and those who simply feel marginalised from society. ID systems vendors must actively engage with inclusivity e.g. avoid over-reliance on data shared from smart phones or lack of access to immigrant populations. The future health of all nations depends on it.
You can follow the full chat on “Navigating #GoodID in the age of COVID-19” at https://mobile.twitter.com/i/events/124818784225945190