City Research Online

Give more data, awareness and control to individual citizens, and they will help COVID-19 containment.

Nanni, M., Andrienko, G. ORCID: 0000-0002-8574-6295, Barabási, A-L., Boldrini, C., Bonchi, F., Cattuto, C., Chiaromonte, F., Comandé, G., Conti, M., Coté, M., Dignum, F., Dignum, V., Domingo-Ferrer, J., Ferragina, P., Giannotti, F., Guidotti, R., Helbing, D., Kaski, K., Kertesz, J., Lehmann, S., Lepri, B., Lukowicz, P., Matwin, S., Jiménez, D. M., Monreale, A., Morik, K., Oliver, N., Passarella, A., Passerini, A., Pedreschi, D., Pentland, A., Pianesi, F., Pratesi, F., Rinzivillo, S., Ruggieri, S., Siebes, A., Torra, V., Trasarti, R., van den Hoven, J. and Vespignani, A. (2021). Give more data, awareness and control to individual citizens, and they will help COVID-19 containment.. Ethics and Information Technology, doi: 10.1007/s10676-020-09572-w

Abstract

The rapid dynamics of COVID-19 calls for quick and effective tracking of virus transmission chains and early detection of outbreaks, especially in the "phase 2" of the pandemic, when lockdown and other restriction measures are progressively withdrawn, in order to avoid or minimize contagion resurgence. For this purpose, contact-tracing apps are being proposed for large scale adoption by many countries. A centralized approach, where data sensed by the app are all sent to a nation-wide server, raises concerns about citizens' privacy and needlessly strong digital surveillance, thus alerting us to the need to minimize personal data collection and avoiding location tracking. We advocate the conceptual advantage of a decentralized approach, where both contact and location data are collected exclusively in individual citizens' "personal data stores", to be shared separately and selectively (e.g., with a backend system, but possibly also with other citizens), voluntarily, only when the citizen has tested positive for COVID-19, and with a privacy preserving level of granularity. This approach better protects the personal sphere of citizens and affords multiple benefits: it allows for detailed information gathering for infected people in a privacy-preserving fashion; and, in turn this enables both contact tracing, and, the early detection of outbreak hotspots on more finely-granulated geographic scale. The decentralized approach is also scalable to large populations, in that only the data of positive patients need be handled at a central level. Our recommendation is two-fold. First to extend existing decentralized architectures with a light touch, in order to manage the collection of location data locally on the device, and allow the user to share spatio-temporal aggregates-if and when they want and for specific aims-with health authorities, for instance. Second, we favour a longer-term pursuit of realizing a Personal Data Store vision, giving users the opportunity to contribute to collective good in the measure they want, enhancing self-awareness, and cultivating collective efforts for rebuilding society.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Publisher Keywords: COVID-19, Personal data store, Mobility data analysis, Contact tracing
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering > Computer Science
Date available in CRO: 05 Aug 2021 08:27
Date deposited: 5 August 2021
Date of acceptance: 2021
Date of first online publication: 2 February 2021
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/26562
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