The author’s argument that we are “shallow” for not wanting to share our data with the government does not take into consideration that different privacy risks exist between these scenarios. Privacy advocates, professionals, and lawyers are voicing rational concerns and providing rational guidance regarding the mass collection of location data to be used by the government. Sharing our location data with the government or a third party by proxy for use by the government may remove our Fourth Amendment rights. Because we will no longer have a reasonable expectation of privacy with regards to our location data, this data can be searched and used against us without a warrant. Are people shallow for wanting to defend their constitutional rights? Are people shallow for worrying that this data may perpetuate the existing biases that exist in our criminal justice system?

Many people dedicate their time to preserving our constitutional rights in the digital world. It is unfair to generalize people’s hesitation to share our location data with the government as “shallow.” It is unfair to label our concerns as “conspiracy” when there is precedence for our concerns (e.g., Carpenter vs. the United States, the Snowden Revelations).

Instead, we should be educating each other, corporations, and government entities to create technologies that balance our privacy risks with the benefits. We should be carefully examining Coronavirus Apps for adequate protections, such as transparency, data minimalization, de-identification (which is challenging with location data), information security, and short retention periods. We should also be questioning the effectiveness of the technology to realize the exchange benefits. In this case, will proximity data be able to determine whether I am in my car next to someone or that there is a wall between us? If not, then risking our privacy for a technology that will not help us fight this virus is not a rational decision.

A privacy technologist turned writer sharing my insights on data privacy among other topics.