Boston (April 8, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a leading Congressional champion for online privacy and author of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), released the following statement after media reported that the Trump administration, led by White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, is looking to create a national coronavirus surveillance system, including a national database of potentially sensitive health information.
“The Trump administration has not given me or the American people any confidence that it is capable of creating or maintaining a massive health data network in a manner that doesn’t undermine our fundamental right to privacy.
“I am deeply concerned to see reports that the White House wants to create a vast surveillance network involving sensitive information about the American people. As a nation, we are facing an historic public health emergency that is devastating individuals, families, and communities across this country. In moments of crisis like this, we should not simply accept the declarations by some in power who will tell us that we have to stray from the guiding principles and civil liberties that make us who we are. They are wrong. We do not have to forgo all privacy in a pandemic nor watch a surveillance state take root. While we should certainly use technological innovations and evidence-driven collaborations to combat the on-going coronavirus crisis, we must also reject proposals and policies that promise harmful invasions of privacy.
“I will be calling on the White House to provide more details of this effort.”