Despite having a population of 61 million people and outbreaks in large cities, South Korea was able to contain the spread of the virus with incredible efficiency. How did they do this? They were greatly aided by reacting very quickly to the appearance of Covid 19. They began early traveller inspections, bans, quarantines and testing.
However, they also used the tools the modern digital age to collect, process and disclose personal data that allowed authorities to conduct contact-tracing (follow the infected person and who they interacted with).
Upon the discovery of a confirmed case of COVID-19, the health authorities used personal data to determine the point of infection and possible close contacts. This process begins with an interview follwed by obtaining credit card transactions, mobile phone tracking, and CCTV, provided by both private business owners and employers. The result is a detailed hour-by-hour reconstruction of the individual’s whereabouts in the days leading up to the confirmation of infection. In some instances, data processors can even determine whether the person in question was wearing a mask at specific times inside certain venues, suggesting that business owners and employers disclose personally identifiable images to the government.
Close contacts are identified in this manner, questions and if necessary tested and quarantined. The government also uses the location data to deploy teams to disinfect locations where a confirmed case has been, such as offices and even private residences.
Further, data regarding the real time location of infected people was made public so that the uninfected could take precautions to stay away from infected indviduals.
There is no doubt that this was a very effective way to enforce social distancing.
Would the US public trust the government to conduct this kind of information gathering and dissemination to control Covid 19 AND trust that they would do nothing else with the data collected?