As many of our previous blogs have highlighted, COVID-19 is severely impacting the tech world. Privacy regulations have been a hot topic for debate between governments, Big tech, and its users.
Facebook has joined the top companies taking advantage of user data in COVID-19 research. As well, Brazil’ LGPD sees pushback in its enforcing because of COVID-19. Opposite to Brazil, US senators are introducing a new privacy bill to ensure American’s data privacy remains protected.
Facebook collecting symptom data
In the current pandemic climate, tech companies of all sizes have stepped up to provide solutions and aid to governments and citizens struggling to cope with COVID-19. As we’ve highlighted in our previous blog posts, Google and Apple have been at the frontlines of introducing systems to protect their user privacy, while inflicting change in how communities track the virus.
Following closely behind, Facebook has introduced its attempt to work with user data for the greater good of COVID-19 research.
Facebook announced its partnerships with different American universities to begin collecting symptom data in different countries. Facebooks CEO and founder told the Verge that the information could work to highlight COVID hotspots across the globe, especially in places where governments have neglected to address the virus’s severity.
Facebook has been working throughout this pandemic to demonstrated how aggregated & anonymized data can be used for good.
However, not everyone is taking to Facebook’s sudden praise for user data control. One article highlighted how the company is still being investigated by the FTC over privacy issues.
Facebook’s long list of privacy invasions for its users is raising some concerns over not how the data is currently being used, but how it will be handled after the pandemic has subsided.
Brazil pushes back privacy legislation.
At the beginning of this year, we wrote an article outlining Brazil’s first data protection act, LGPD. This privacy legislation follows closely to that of the EU’s GDPR and will unify 40 current privacy laws the country has.
Before COVID-19s effect on countries like Brazil, many tech companies were already pressuring the Brazilian government to change LGPD’s effective date.
On April 29th, the Brazilian president delayed the applicability date of the LGPD to May 3rd, 2021. By issuing this Provisional measure, the Brazilian Congress has been given 16 days to approve the new LGPD implementation.
If Congress does not approve of this new date by May 15th, the Brazillian Congress must vote on the new LGPD date. If they do not, the LGPD will come into effect on August 14th, 2020.
Brazil’s senate has now voted to move its introduction in January 2021, with sanctions coming to action in August 2021. Meaning all lawsuits and complaints can be proposed as of January 1st, and all action will be taken on August 1st (source).
America introduces new privacy law.
Much like Brazil’s privacy legislation being affected by COVID-19, some US senators have stepped up to ensure the privacy of American citizens data.
The few senators proposing this bill have said they are working to “hold businesses accountable to consumers if they use personal data to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”
This bill does not target contact tracing apps like those proposed by Apple and Google. However, it does ensure that these companies are effectively using data and protecting it.
The bill requires companies to gain consent from users in order to collect any health or location data. As well, it forces companies to ensure that the information they collect is properly anonymized and cannot be re-identified. The bill requires that these tech companies will have to delete all identifiable information once COVID-19 has subsided, and tracking apps are no longer necessary.
The bill has wide acceptance across the congressional floor and will be enforced by the state attorney generals. This privacy bill is being considered a big win for Americans’ privacy rights, especially with past privacy trust issues between big tech companies and its users.