ACLU, EFF Against Blockchain for COVID-19 Tracking

ACLU, EFF Against Blockchain for COVID-19 Tracking

Blockchain
August 10, 2020 Editor's Desk
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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have expressed against a new law in California that aspires to utilize blockchain for COVID-19 tracing. Last week, in an online post, the digital rights duo described the bill as a “huge privacy concern.” It appended that “no one should have to unlock their
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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have expressed against a new law in California that aspires to utilize blockchain for COVID-19 tracing. Last week, in an online post, the digital rights duo described the bill as a “huge privacy concern.” It appended that “no one should have to unlock their phone and expose their health information to gain entry to their office, school, or neighborhood market.”

The bill, AB 2004, which was drafted by lawmakers in California earlier this year, needs to build a system where health records are on a blockchain, so verifying individuals’ COVID-19 status is accessible. The concept is that people can be checked upon entry to specific places on whether they’ve had COVID-19.

AB 2004 says that “verifiable health credentials” that utilize blockchain technology could offer solutions to track and trace privacy concerns.  However, Adam Schwartz, a senior staff attorney at the EFF, said that “medical test results are a poor fit for public ledgers” and that a person’s COVID-19 status “may change from day to day.” He claimed that a blockchain system would not be required to track citizens’ COVID-19 status and would “unfairly punish” those who couldn’t afford a coronavirus test.

Schwartz also added that a system similar to the one AB 2004 proposes would be “a troubling step towards a national identification system.” He claimed the bill would get people into the practice of flashing ID to access particular places and “create new information security problems when people hand their unlocked phones to gatekeepers.” 

“In short, this bill is a blockchain solution in search of a problem, and COVID-19 is a problem that will not be so easily solved,” he said. The bill was proposed in May and was immediately reprimanded by the EFF. EFF’s current statement came after the bill was amended at the end of June. Privacy and national identification systems have become a hot topic since the coronavirus commenced wreaking havoc across the globe with some advice that governments could be utilizing the pandemic to exercise more authority over their citizens. 

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