Data tracking techniques used during pandemics at risk of abuse, privacy experts warn


The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered technology-based surveillance, opening up opportunities for governments and businesses to collect civilian data under radar, said the Director of Technology Policy.

The comment uses a data agency first set up by the Victoria State Government to inform pandemic decisions, known to have spent the longest days in the world blocking Australian media coverage in early June. It was after revealing what I was doing. Monitor daily activities of the Victorian era beyond COVID-19.

Human Rights Watch in late May found Eighty-nine percent of the educational technology (EdTech) used in distance learning used access to children by collecting personal, location, or learning data.

Many of these apps and websites have been approved by the Australian Government, including Zoom, Minecraft Education and Microsoft Teams, and have been used since COVID-19.

Dhakshayini Sooriyakumaran, director of technology policy at Reset Australia, an independent think tank working to combat digital threats, said the pandemic has set various data extraction technologies as “emergency measures.”

However, she said, these technologies usually do not have adequate data protection protection measures or explicit purpose limits, creating loopholes in data misuse.

“There is no public involvement in what the public feels comfortable about how the government uses the data,” she told The Epoch Times.

“And because of the difference in power between institutions and individual citizens, the data is used and misused. The result is truly disastrous results.”

according to Recent research Insights Victoria, the Victoria State Government’s data agency, has collected public, confidential, “reliable commercial” data from citizens to become the government’s “single source of truth.”

Full access was given to the Victorian Police Chief, Chief Health Officer, Emergency Management Commissioner, and Prime Minister Dan Andrews’s Private Political Staff.

The revelation came after being asked to withdraw the government’s information sharing bill 2021.The bill is Alleged To undermine a patient’s right to privacy by creating a system that “shares the most personal medical information of an individual in an electronic database without consent”.

“It’s hard to know when the government keeps it secret and what they’re hiding,” said Roger Clark, secretary of the Australian Privacy Foundation, an NGO formed to protect privacy rights. I told the Epoch Times.

“Publicly available factual information seems to be minimal, and that alone is a serious concern,” Clark said.

“Decisions on the content of the law require parliamentary approval, not the whims of politicians. And decisions on public policy measures require public information and public debate.”

However, some digital privacy experts are divided on how much Australians should be concerned about their right to privacy. “The public doesn’t care about data or the digital trails left behind,” said Damian Manuel, an associate professor at the Center for Cybersecurity Research and Innovation.

“If people use Facebook as an example, they need to understand that they are a product, which is why the service is free. Even using a mapping service on a mobile phone is profitable. Organizations can track where people go, but there is no public protest, but when the government does the same, we seem to be armed. “

“If the government has access to a wealth of data sources, it can be used to provide improved services to Australians under proper supervision.”

It may be hard to say that governments and businesses used pandemics to collect data, but institutions can be “opportunistic,” said Sooriyakumaran, director of reset technology policy.

“We live in an economy where data is one of the most valuable resources that any institution can actually get,” she said.

“The government, like businesses, is flying under radar and trying to extract as much data as possible.”

Sooriyakumaran further described data-driven decision-making as “a kind of philosophy that institutions have adopted in all sectors and industries.”

Digital privacy experts have a wide range of large-scale data extractions performed by all government services such as Australia’s COVID-19 tracking app, QR code, robot debt, social welfare, Centrelink, employment services, and disability assistance. Pointed out the trend. ..

“But I think people are starting to understand more and more, especially with pandemics. Oh, governments and businesses are actually quite intertwined when it comes to the value chain of data extraction.”

Nina Nguyen


Nina Nguyen is a Sydney-based reporter. She covers Australian news with a focus on social, cultural and identity issues. She is fluent in Vietnamese. Contact her at [email protected].