In Brazil, use of personal data in fight against COVID prevails over right to privacy, study finds

Researchers from FGV EAESP presented a case study on data collection and treatment strategies, including geolocation and health services, in both regions.
Public Policy
29 November 2022
In Brazil, use of personal data in fight against COVID prevails over right to privacy, study finds

The use of personal data in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic served as the basis for public policies to prevent contagion in Brazil and the European Union. Brazil prioritized the right to health over security and user consent regarding information collected by public health apps such as “Coronavirus – SUS.” In the European Union, the information collected by the public authorities in each country depended on people signing up to apps and their terms of use, which indicates more attention to citizens’ privacy.

In an article published in “Revista de Gestão dos País de Língua Portuguesa,” researchers from FGV EAESP presented a case study on data collection and treatment strategies, including geolocation and health services, in both regions. The study focused on technological solutions created at the beginning of the pandemic, in 2020.

In Brazil, the authors looked at the “InLoco” geolocation system, which generated anonymous data on mean isolation by state and visits to hospitals; the State Government Intelligent Monitoring System (“SIMI SP”), which cross-checked data from telephone operators with health records to issue alerts about crowds and provide an overview of contagion in each state; and the “Coronavirus – SUS” app, which provided access to reliable prevention and treatment information and generates user geolocation data. The authors indicate that despite following the legislation, these Brazilian services had gaps in terms of user security. The Coronavirus – SUS did not initially have a privacy policy and consent to data collection was linked to the use of the application, for example. In the case of SIMI SP, the article questions the effectiveness of the service at intra-municipal level, as it did not detail specific data with a smaller geographic coverage, such as neighborhoods.

The paper’s authors – Mariana Leite Fernandes da Silva, Marco Antonio Carvalho Teixeira and Eduardo de Rezende Francisco – highlight greater concern with transparency in the European Union. German app “Corona-Datenspende” requires direct consent from users regarding the processing of personal data, unlike Coronavirus – SUS, in which consent is presumed by use of the app. The article highlights the challenge of balancing the collective right to health and the individual right to data protection, as one of these will be prioritized in each context.

Read the complete article here.

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