WASHINGTON, D.C. – As public health officials around the country continue to explore exposure notification technologies to combat the spread of COVID-19, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., introduced bipartisan legislation to protect consumer privacy and promote public health
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., also will co-sponsor the legislation.
The legislation makes participation in commercial online exposure notification systems voluntary and gives consumers strong controls over their personal data.
It also limits the types of data that can be collected and how it can be used and contains strong enforcement provisions.
“This bill defends privacy when someone voluntarily joins with others to stop the spread of Covid-19,” Cassidy said.
“Public health needs to be in charge of any notification system so we protect people’s privacy and help them know when there is a warning that they might have been exposed to COVID-19,” Cantwell said.
“As we continue to confront the coronavirus pandemic, Americans should not have to worry about the privacy and security of their personal health data,” Klobuchar said.
“While contact tracing can play a critical role in helping prevent the spread of the coronavirus, this crucial innovation cannot come at the expense of consumers’ privacy.”
Specifically, the Exposure Notification Privacy Act will:
· Require that public health officials be involved with the deployment of any exposure notification systems.
· Allow only medically authorized diagnoses to be submitted to exposure notification systems. In order to guard against false reports, exposure notification systems would only accept authorized medical diagnoses.
· Require that participation be voluntary and based on consumer consent.
· Limit the collection and use of data to that which is necessary for the purpose of the system and prohibit any commercial use of data.