DATA protection Vs public safety: the age of privacy in time of pandemic
Article By : Lamia Ben Ayach
Data in the twenty-first century is analogous to oil in the eighteenth: a hugely valuable, untapped asset. Those who identify the basic value of data and learn to extract and utilize it, like those who recognize the fundamental value of oil, will reap huge profits. Data is more precious than ever in today’s digital economy. Everything from the government to small businesses relies on it to function properly. Especially in the face of a pandemic. Data is still extremely important. To address the issue of data protection and public safety, we shall present four major points: The significance of DATA in pandemic response (I). Second, the concept of the right to privacy and its link to the right to data protection (II) and third, the essential data protection regulations (III), and lastly, achieving the right balance between public safety and data protection (VI). I. The significance of DATA in pandemic response Governments need enough data in order to make decisions whether it is about detecting cases or taking measures in general. Actually, all the digital tools are based on collecting DATA and this is what makes data very critical in fighting a pandemic. In light of this, it is not surprising that data protection has been a key part of public discourse surrounding the response to COVID-19, from the early phases of the pandemic to the recent public health restrictions. Contact tracing was one of the key data protection concerns that arose as a result of the COVID19 outbreak. Effective contact tracking procedures were required to prevent the virus’s spread, especially prior to the discovery and distribution of vaccinations. In fact, the COVID-19 has presented substantial issues for data protection law: not only for data controllers and processors, whether public or commercial, but also for data subjects and data protection authorities at the national and international levels. The management of a serious public health emergency, such as COVID-19, has significant implications for personal data protection by definition, including wide and large-scale processing of personal data. “The Covid-19 pandemic has sparked a serious debate on the collection, processing, and control of data. In the lack of a universal standard for data management, nations throughout the globe have taken disparate ways to employ data in pandemic governance, notably in Covid-19 testing and tracking and surveillance techniques for monitoring quarantines.” Another reason that emphasizes the importance of DATA and digital technologies in response to pandemic is their role in ensuring the continuity of the minimum level of normal life with the guarantee of people’s safety while travelling or mobilizing to work or even to study.