Are the AI systems used for contact tracing of COVID-19 ethical? In our latest vlog, we explore the extent to which the use of these systems are ethical, and why.
With many European Nations launching the Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT), to release software code which can be used to create contact tracing apps, tracking the possible transmission of COVID-19, many wonder about the extent to which this would be ethical. The apps in question would use phone Bluetooth signals to track users’ proximity to each other, and would then inform users if they had been in the proximity of someone who had tested positive for the virus. Last week, we explored the use of AI, in tracking or preventing the spread of COVID-19. This week, we take a deeper look at the ethical implications of the use of such technology in our society.
According to Article 9 of the GDPR, certain categories of personal data can only be processed under specific circumstances. These special circumstances include things like vital interests, and public health. With regard to public health as a condition for processing personal data, this condition is met not just by virtue of it being for reasons of public health interests. According to Data Protection Act 2018, the processing would also need to be carried out by, or under the responsibility of a health professional, or by another person who in the circumstances owes the duty of confidentiality under the law. Article 22 of the GDPR states that without the subject’s explicit consent, profiling is only allowed where authorised by Union or Member State law.
With all this considered, the ethics of the AI systems used in the fight against COVID-19 would play a vital role in maintaining accuracy and non-discrimination. While these measures seem to be very helpful right now, for the sake of public health, there lies the risk of these measures persisting beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. In our latest vlog, we explore the ethics of the use of these AI systems.
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