California bill aims to make contact tracing feasible and safe

by Gerald Sauer

Contact tracing is universally recognized as a key weapon in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, and it has been successfully implemented in countries around the world. In the United States, however, contact tracing is presently more concept than reality. People just don’t trust the government with their personal information, and for good reason. Despite being protected by the nation’s most stringent data privacy laws, Californians continue to witness a haphazard approach to their privacy by the vary entities entrusted with their data.

How then can they be expected to feel sanguine about having their real- time location and health information tracked and shared with others? Proposed federal legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate on May 7 was ostensibly designed to protect personal data collected for purposes of contact tracing, but it is full of holes. S.3663, the COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act of 2020, would actually impose few meaningful restrictions on the use of collected data, would afford no private right of action for abuse, and would supersede state laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act with respect to contact tracing data.

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