Concerns arise over who would get your personal health info from contact tracing

Coronavirus

(WIVB)–Contact tracing is vital.

When someone tests positive to COVID-19, researchers track down all the places and the people they have been in close physical contact with.

There are even apps to affect this social outreach but there are also drawbacks, even ripoffs.  

Most contact tracing is being carried out the old fashioned way, person-to-person or by phone. But what happens to your most personal information once it is gathered by your local or state government?

“It is not going to work unless all of those people are confident that the information they give to the contact tracers is not going to be used against them, is not going to be given to police,” Assemblyman Richard Gottfried said.

Gottfried has introduced one of several bills pending in Albany designed to protect the privacy of New Yorkers questioned by contact tracers, the topic of a virtual news conference.

Albert Fox Cahn of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project says, “let’s be clear:  contact tracing privacy protections are a matter of live and death. If we do not enact these laws New Yorkers will die needlessly, senselessly.”

Democrats have submitted two identical Contact Tracing Privacy Protection bills, one in the Assembly the other in the State Senate.

Republicans are offering their own version in the State Senate.

Theirs relates more to the digital gathering of data, the kind that can be collected through a smartphone app, and can fall into the wrong hands or somewhere the virus patient does not trust.

Western New York Republicans are leading the privacy effort in the State Senate, Chris Jacobs is the lead sponsor and Chautauqua County’s George Borrello is the co-sponsor.

Attorney General Letitia James is also calling on Google and Apple to block questionable contact tracing apps.

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