Jack Dunn at IAPP: “…It is revealing that our relationship with privacy is amorphous and requires additional context in light of transformative technologies, new economic realities and public health emergencies. How can we reasonably evaluate the costs and benefits of Google or Facebook sharing location data with the federal government when it has been perfectly legal for Walgreen’s to share access to customer data with pharmaceutical advertisers? How does aggregating and anonymizing data safeguard privacy when a user’s personal data can be revealed through other data points?
The pandemic is only revealing that we’ve yet to reach a consensus on privacy norms that will come to define the digital age.
This isn’t the first time that technology confounded notions of privacy and consumer protection. In fact, the constitutional right to privacy was born out of another public health crisis. Before 1965, 32 women per 100,000 live births died while giving birth. Similarly, 25 infants died per 100,000 live births. As a result, medical professionals and women’s rights advocates began arguing for greater access to birth control. When state legislatures sought to minimize access, birth control advocates filed lawsuits that eventually lead to the Supreme Court’s seminal case regarding the right to privacy, Griswold v. Connecticut.…
Today, there is growing public concern over the way in which consumer data is used to consolidate economic gain among the few while steering public perception among the many — particularly at a time when privacy seems to be the price for ending public health emergencies.
But the COVID-19 outbreak is also highlighting how user data has the capacity to improve consumer well being and public health. While strict adherence to traditional notions of privacy may be ineffectual in a time of exponential technological growth, the history of our relationship to privacy and technology suggests regulatory policies can strike a balance between otherwise competing interests….(More)“.