Privacy & Pandemics: Responsible Uses of Technology & Health Data

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International Tech & Data Conference: October 27-28, 2020

The Future of Privacy Forum, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, Duke Sanford School of Public Policy, SFI ADAPT Research Centre, Dublin City University, and Intel Corporation presented Privacy & Pandemics: Responsible Uses of Technology and Health Data During Times of Crisis — An International Tech and Data Conference, including a two day virtual workshop on October 27-28, 2020 to explore the value and limits of data and technology in the context of a global crisis. What role have tech and data played in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, what have we learned about limitations of law, policy and technical tools, and what areas need reform and additional research?

The resulting workshop report will be used by the National Science Foundation to help set direction for Convergence Accelerator 2021 Workshops, speeding the transition of convergence research into practice to address grand challenges of national importance.

Read the final workshop report here.

Keynote Speakers

Workshop Agenda (subject to change)

Day 1: Technology & Data Access

Day 1 Participant Bios

10:00 – 10:10AM ET: Introduction to the Discussion


Opening comments from the conveners: 

10:10 – 10:40AM ET: Keynote Speaker – Dr. Lauren Gardner, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, CSSE Co-Director, Johns Hopkins University

10:40AM – 12:10PM ET: Session 1 – Accessibility SARS CoV-2 Data

The need to understand, research, and prevent the spread of COVID-19 has necessitated urgent efforts to assemble, collect, manage, and transfer volumes of data from a variety of disparate sources. These efforts have raised unique challenges related to data access and quality, systems’ interoperability, and display & visualization of information. In this session, experts will grapple with the ongoing challenges related to data access and the corresponding privacy concerns.

Moderator: Kelsey Finch, FPF Senior Counsel


12:10 – 12:30PM ET: Break

12:30 – 2:00PM ET: Session 2 – Use of Technology to Track, Trace & Notify to Control the Spread of COVID-19

Identifying the mechanisms for spread of COVID-19 presents scientific and social challenges. Concerns about transmission through direct contact, shared surfaces, and via airborne droplets led to the development of new technologies to facilitate appropriate social distancing and isolation following an infection, contact tracing and exposure notification apps, thermal scanning, and self-isolation symptom recommendation services to reduce person-to-person exposure. These technologies raise concerns about data protection, privacy, and public trust, which experts will address in this panel.

Moderator: Pollyanna Sanderson, FPF Policy Counsel


Day 2: Policy & Convergence

Day 2 Participant Bios

10:00 – 10:10AM ET: Introduction to the Discussion


Opening comments from the conveners: 

10:10 – 10:40AM ET: Keynote Speaker – Katherine Yelick, Associate Dean for Research, Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society, University of California, Berkeley

10:40AM -12:10PM ET: Session 3 – Adapting Legal & Regulatory Responses to a Global Emergency

The contention that law and regulation struggles to keep pace with technology have become ever more prominent as the COVID-19 pandemic emergency grows. Privacy laws, public health authority provisions, and international law all emerged as areas of concern. In this session, experts discuss what we can learn from this pandemic for the future of law, regulatory authority, and social norms.

Moderator: Limor Shmerling Magazanik, Israel Tech Policy Institute Managing Director


12:10 – 12:30PM ET: Break

12:30 – 2:00PM ET: Session 4 – The Convergence of Technology, Policy, & Responsible Data Use in a Global Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic brought issues of privacy and technology to the forefront of the public and political debate. The lessons from this pandemic will seed future research, but in which directions ought privacy law, technology, and research go when interfacing with the many scientific communities that will explore these questions? In this final workshop, the Future of Privacy Forum invites discussion and debate around our position statement on the future of privacy technology and research.

Moderator: Jules Polonetsky, FPF CEO


Note: this session is open to all participants from previous sessions.

Additional Information

For more information on this effort, please contact Christy Harris at [email protected].

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