More Dems Seek Privacy Protections for Coronavirus Data

More Democrats weighed in Thursday (March 19) to raise caution flags over the Trump Administration's discussions with tech companies about using smart phone location data to help combat the coronavirus by tracking its movement. 

Phone companies have to collect location data to provide the underlying service, so users don't have the option of blocking that collection. 

Related: Sen. Markey Concerned About Coronavirus Geolocation Tracking 

While Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) wrote to U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios to register his concerns about the data collection, Reps. Suzan DelBene (Wash.) and Anna Eshoo (Calif.), joined by Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), aimed higher.  

In a letter to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, the legislators said they supported bold moves to stem the crisis, but that "prohibiting government intrusion into the private lives of Americans is, and has always been part of the DNA of our country." 

The trio called on the White House to protect personal location and health data by adopting various privacy principles, including 1) data minimization and anonymization, 2) preventing the data from any other uses--behavioral targeting, for example, or by law enforcement or immigration agencies--and 3) destroying data after the pandemic is over.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.