Will the Ongoing Battle Against Corona Cost us Our Privacy?

by March 25, 2020 0 comments

Artificial intelligence is frequently tainted with questions regarding concerns about privacy, bias, and trickery in areas such as facial recognition, tracking, and deep fake videos. But now when history feels threatened by the novel coronavirus, AI seems to be our sole respite.

Hoan Ton-That’s Startup, Clearview AI, created massive shockwaves in the Network privacy industry when it was discovered that the facial recognition app sells information to law enforcement and business firms. Not only it blatantly erodes privacy but the weaponizing possibilities of such a tech feature are limitless. To make things worse, people are concerned about what shall happen to the surveillance cameras and tracking apps after the current pandemic of COVID-19 fades away.

In times of mass crisis, people have been under constant surveillance to prevent further cases that can hamper world peace in any form. For instance, after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, there arose a massive necessity for state monitoring, so did in case of Swine flu and Ebola. With each scenario scarier than its precedent, the emphasis grew stricter to draw a line between security and personal freedom.

Recently Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the employment of advanced digital monitoring tools that were previously used to counter Palestine terrorism activities to track individuals diagnosed with deadly coronavirus. Shortly after the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) provided further clarification that it would not be used to monitor affected patients but it will use existing mapping technologies to enable identification of area or people staying in infected areas and get them checked as soon as possible. He further assured that these activities are in a strict legal protocol that governs misuse and oversight of the said.

China quarantined 50 million people in cities like Wuhan and used WeChat and Alipay to track people’s movement and keep infected individuals from traveling. According to sources, in the UK, collective data from telecom provider O2 is used to observe trends in public movement in London while individuals’ location data is used to measure how people are complying with mandates for isolation, self-quarantine, and social isolation. Although this data sharing may appear as a preventive measure to look for the future possibility of an epidemic, yet transparency has to be maintained to gain public trust. As apart from these challenging times, Government has nothing else to justify these secretive, anonymized actions, besides Humans exposed to this technology have no chance of controlling their data and their privacy if there’s no transparency regarding the AI supply chain.

AI technology and licensing vendors must seek out innovative solutions to empower their clients who can then empower their users. This includes robust privacy notices, build client integration documentation, and enhance positive privacy user experience which can be done using SRRs. SRRs are defined set of rights, where individuals have the power to make requests regarding their data and organizations must respond to them in a defined time frame.

Apart from the aforementioned, Tech Giants like Facebook and Google are now offering Opportunities for content moderation by using AI, in the comfort of home. This comes after multiple issues of criticism of anti-spam system labeling wrong videos and posts including the ones which provided information about COVID-19.

Although AI is still in its early stages, privacy has always been a major concern among the people. However, if COVID-19, would not show any signs of slowing, we may be left with the option to implement it as authoritarian China did. Additionally, with the paranoia of another outbreak, adaptation and absorption of AI are more likely to be our new normal.

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