Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About us Campus Fryslân

Apps to trace COVID-19? Let’s get it right with lessons from humanitarian work

03 June 2020

Contact-tracing apps can be helpful in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. However, data protection and privacy concerns arise. The humanitarian community has developed principles of data responsibility that can help reduce the risks. Andrej Zwitter and Oskar Gstrein assess these principles in their latest open access article ‘Big data, privacy and COVID-19 – learning from humanitarian expertise in data protection’.

The article, which focuses on the dangers of data misuse such as through rushed implementation of immature digital contact tracing apps, discusses the following data protection principles to establish privacy, security and responsibility by design:

  • Context sensitive data collection and sharing with a view to politically sensitive contexts;
  • Ensure data subjects' rights (including individual and group privacy);
  • Ensure data retention/deletion with potential data breaches in mind;
  • Professional and responsible data processing and analysis as an ethical duty.

Zwitter and Gstrein highlight the shortcomings of current data protection and privacy frameworks, which are rooted in their limitation to protect individual rights. As venue for progress they suggest state of the art principles developed in humanitarian practice and academia.

Andrej Zwitter & Oskar Gstrein

Andrej Zwitter is dean of Campus Fryslân and professor of Governance and Innovation. His expertise includes Big Data Ethics and Governance, Blockchain Regulation, Humanitarian Action, State of Emergency and Interdisciplinary Research & Education Management.

Oskar Gstrein is Assistant Professor at the department of Governance and Innovation at Campus Fryslân, where he is also member of the Data Research Centre. He is carrying out research in the EU Horizon 2020 project ‘Cutting Crime Impact’ and teaching in the master program Governance and Law in Digital Society, as well as the minor Data Wise.

More information

The full article appears in the open access Journal of International Humanitarian Action.

Last modified:03 June 2020 11.09 a.m.
printView this page in: Nederlands

More news

  • 15 June 2021

    From ‘closed’ science to Open Science

    Vera Heininga is the Open Science coordinator and future programme leader of the upcoming Open Science programme of the University of Groningen. Together with her colleagues, she created the Open Science Community Groningen (OSCG). She explains...

  • 17 May 2021

    ‘Encouraging young people, that’s my most important job’

    Four and a half years ago, he received the Nobel Prize. During the award ceremony in Stockholm, Ben Feringa made a resolution: I will put science on the map. His mission is being given a new boost with the establishment of the Ben Feringa Fund,...

  • 10 May 2021

    ‘Give people with dementia more freedom to organize their own social lives’

    Older people with memory problems who live at home are extraordinarily resourceful when it comes to staying in control of their activities outside the home. Demographers Jodi Sturge and Mirjam Klaassens are certainly impressed. ‘It’s not about...