The Matrix Law Pod Episode 5: Every breath you take – data tracking in the age of Covid-19


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This week the Matrix Law Pod addresses the human rights implications of how Governments are increasingly turning to technology, not least data tracking, to help ease us out of lockdown.

In countries such as South Korea and Taiwan, the authorities have been using location data from peoples phones to identify all those who have been in the close vicinity of a person diagnosed with Covid in order that they can be isolated before they infect others. Contact tracing has long been a feature of public health – for example, doctors would sit down with those diagnosed with TB or HIV and discuss who they might have had been in relevant contact with – and then try and track those persons down – a slow and inefficient task that even when it identified contacts might do so long after they had in turn infected many others.  Technology offers the promise of doing those tasks in fractions of seconds with far greater efficacy.

This is a subject of great interest to the UK authorities and to the data companies who advise them, or would like to advise them. In this episode we explore not just the benefits that this tech might bring but what the dangers and downsides might be.  To what degree can law, or should law, provide a means for balancing the benefits that tech can bring with its dangers – and how can that be achieved?

Richard Hermer QC, Murray Hunt and Helen Mountfield QC are joined by Cori Crider, a US qualified lawyer and the co-founder of Foxglove which is an NGO created to address the threat of the misuse of mass data collection.