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Don't Expose COVID Patients' Identities, Says Privacy Watchdog

Naming them will not stop the virus.
by John Paulo Aguilera
Sep 25, 2020
Photo/s: Jerome Ascano

Not only is it "anti-poor" and "devoid of science and ethics," but publicly naming individuals with COVID-19 will do nothing to stop the spread of the disease, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) said.

The data privacy monitor rejected the recommendation of business groups to suspend the Data Privacy Act during the pandemic, calling it a "gross disregard for the expert opinions of epidemiologists and scientists around the world and the reality happening on the ground."

The NPC cited  Singapore and Thailand that had successful contact tracing campaigns without violating data privacy.

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"We must consistently defer to science and available evidence, when making decisions especially in a national response as critical as this. There has been no evidence that publicly naming COVID-infected individuals has public health benefits. But we have evidence that outing those with the disease leads to public discrimination, shaming, and social vigilantism," part of its statement read.

According to NPC, doing so has discouraged COVID positive patients and their close contacts from self-reporting, which has resulted in the inaccurate monitoring of virus transmission.

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It believes that authorities already have the right laws to conduct effective contact tracing and patient treatment without invading personal data and dignity.

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