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The surveillance programs may help the government to keep a check on public health emergencies.
FREMONT, CA: Governments from all over the world are responding to the coronavirus public health emergency with an extraordinary collection of surveillance devices. These tools were designed to recognize and track anyone infected from the virus.
These amount of measures have considerably increased the debates about the privacy and governmental information of private citizens. Some of the advocates of privacy agree that the current crisis substantiates such an extraordinary form of supervision.
However, different countries are balancing public health and individual privacy in various other ways. There are new surveillance tools emerging, so the choices made by the governments will reveal the way they assess the relative weight of public health and privacy and the method in which the balance may change as new challenges comes up.
Voluntary or opt-in surveillance programs offer every person more control over the personal information that they share. The technology does not even breach personal privacy. However, the data provided by voluntary programs is of a low quality than the compulsory surveillance. Everyone does not need to opt-in, and the people are participating may not representative of the population. This type of situation leaves gaps while covering some of the communities.
Many governments do not offer the citizens the choice to opt in to share their data. In such cases, there are mandatory surveillance programs. These programs take away the sensitive information of the citizens, such as user locations, and they do not have the option to opt-out. This method might give better data that will support efforts at contact tracing, but the government will disturb the privacy of individuals.
The data can be controlled by government agencies, or it can be with private companies. If the data is centralized and goes directly to the government, it will become easy for the authorities to collect process and combine information from disparate sources.