Boston (April 9, 2020) – – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today sent a letter to President Donald Trump regarding reports that White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has been in contact with several private companies about creating a national surveillance system to inform resource allocation and policy decisions during the coronavirus pandemic. Reporting in Politico revealed that senior Trump Administration officials have been in touch with health technology firms about ideas including leveraging patient health records to extrapolate findings about availability of medical supplies and hospital capacity. In his letter, Senator Markey expresses support for data-driven efforts to combat the current public health crisis, but urges President Trump to reject any proposals and policies that may lead to damaging invasions of privacy.


“I welcome your Administration’s efforts to make more transparent a resource-allocation process thus far plagued by political concerns and a lack of clear criteria.  And I fully support efforts to identify and implement inventive solutions to the public health crisis facing our country,” writes Senator Markey in his letter to President Trump. “But the contours of the proposal under consideration appear to represent a significant threat to Americans’ right to privacy.”


A copy of Senator Markey’s letter can be found HERE.


The Senator asks for response to questions that include:

  • How would this project be a more effective tool for medical-resource-allocation efforts than building on existing information sets and communications systems with local entities that have access to real-time, on-the-ground information about the needs of patients and health care providers?
  • Will you commit to providing Congress with regular, comprehensive reports on the nature and effectiveness of any coronavirus surveillance network or database?
  • Will you commit to submitting for external review any dataset this project may utilize, in order to allow experts to identify and address privacy pitfalls, including risks of data re-identification?
  • Will you ensure that the federal government stops collecting health data for the proposed surveillance system and disposes of any collected data once the coronavirus pandemic is over?
  • How would this project specifically protect against unique threats that health privacy invasions pose for racial minorities, LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals?