Government agencies like the National Health System (NHS) in the UK must enforce strong data governance to protect their citizens. The creation of the “COVID-19 datastore” — a centralized government database — means that the UK government, the NHS, and a group of tech companies are collecting, aggregating, and mining confidential and sensitive data of UK citizens on an unprecedented scale. 

In her report “Governments Must Stop Privacy Abuses While Fighting The Pandemic, Senior Analyst Enza Iannopollo explains how: 

  • Several governments and their partners are leveraging technology to collect, process, share, and store data about citizens.  
  • Government-sponsored and corporate apps are helping with contact tracing.
  • The post-COVID scenario is threatened with enormous privacy and surveillance risks.
  • With A lack of safeguards, emergency powers will determine a state of surveillance post-COVID.
  • Security, risk, and privacy professionals in governments and in their partners’ organizations must follow the components of an ethical approach to protect citizens’ privacy while fighting their way out of the crisis. 

Much of the now gathered data will be laundered and will find its way into companies’ systems and processes. It will train algorithms; it will power data management platforms; it will end up in credit scoring engines; and it will serve in data models to target voters, customers, minorities, etc. A real commitment to data ethics — from documenting and assessing data sources to defining and adopting principles to guide data use and sharing practices — will become an imperative to ensure trust in the digital economy and its ecosystem.

Enza is available for interviews and happy to discuss the topic in more detail.