Cyber Democracy podcast was on a mid-season break. We are back now with some bonus episodes.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has seen unprecedented steps being taken by countries across the world. From stringent lockdowns to increased push towards remote working to heightened surveillance using technology, the steps being taken to tackle COVID-19 by countries have sometimes crossed into the tricky realm of do we violate patient privacy and confidentiality to keep communities safe. From China to South Korea to India, contact tracing applications that use smartphone Bluetooth sensors to see if the other person around you is a suspect or patient are on the rise. For this to work, the other person should also have the same contact tracing app installed. This way when one person has been tested positive for coronavirus, the health authorities can test every other person in the chain of contact and quarantine them.
One such app in India which is being popularised is the Aarogya Setu app by the Indian government. Experts, however, say that these systems are still in the experimental stage and are tricky in terms of privacy and data they collect. Internet Freedom Foundation too has raised concerns about the app, information collection, data storage and transparency. To know more about these apps, I spoke to Divya Siddarth, a researcher who contributed to a paper on coronavirus applications which was published by Harvard Edmond J Safra Center for Ethics, titled "Outpacing the Virus: Digital Response to Containing the Spread of COVID-19 while Mitigating Privacy Risks."