WASHINGTON (April 22, 2020) – From Speaker Nancy Pelosi to President Donald Trump, U.S. politicians of every stripe have expressed concern over online privacy. Officials also say they are doing everything they can to control the coronavirus, and considering a range of digital technologies to monitor the pandemic.
The resulting policy balancing act is among the key issues covered with Cat Zakrzewski, technology policy reporter and editor of the Technology 202 at the Washington Post, on a new edition of TPI’s Two Think Minimum podcast.
“It’s really a fascinating time because there is just a mad rush right now in Silicon Valley to figure out how these companies can work with the federal government, provide data that would be useful in tracking the efficacy of social distancing efforts and later possibly restarting the economy,” Zakrzewski tells TPI’s Scott Wallsten and Sarah Oh, who moderate the podcast.
“For the past few years…Washington has been closely scrutinizing what a lot of tech companies are doing on the privacy front and thinking about new privacy laws,” she said. “All of these issues are coming to a head right now when we think about the response to the coronavirus.
“I’ve talked to a lot of privacy experts who worry that they see a lot of parallels between the place we’re in right now and what happened after 9-11, and how there can sometimes be a rush to respond to a crisis without thinking of some of the long-term effects that might have on privacy,” Zakrzewski continued.
The Technology 202 editor says she and other reporters watch to see how government decisions—such as shutting down beaches in New Jersey and the Fish Market in DC—are made based on aggregated, information from some big tech companies. But, from her reporting, she senses there is a limit to what lengths lawmakers will let data collection go: “We’ll see lawmakers exert some oversight of these technologies.”
Listen to the latest episode of Two Think Minimum here.