Trump needs to answer questions on coronavirus surveillance plans, senator says

Sen. Markey says community data, not personalized data, should be used during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Amid reports that US President Donald Trump is seeking to create a national coronavirus surveillance system, Sen. Edward J. Markey has urged the government to refrain from invading people's privacy . While Markey said technology and data should be used in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he said Thursday that such a system could use "highly sensitive information about Americans."

The letter follows reports Tuesday that Jared Kushner, White House senior adviser and Trump's son-in-law, is seeking to set up a national coronavirus surveillance system. The system would include easing data-sharing rules for health companies and federal and state officials, according to Politico, which cited an unnamed source, and would be used to make decisions on allocating federal resources and medical equipment to hospitals and health care centers.

"The components revealed to date point to deeply troubling privacy risks," Markey wrote in letter to Trump. The senator urged the government to use community data but not personalized information, arguing it could lead to discrimination based on medical conditions.

Markey has asked Trump for details about the project; whether it will end when the coronavirus pandemic is over; which private entities the administration is in contact with about the system; how the data would be collected, maintained, accessed, stored and disposed of; whether there will be regular reports to Congress on the system; whether there would be external review of privacy and security risks; and whether the system would protect against health privacy invasions for LGBTQ individuals, racial minorities, those with disabilities and low-income individuals.

Markey also spoke out against COVID-19 tracking efforts last month, saying they pose a privacy risk.

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