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

  • 29 September 2020

    Oscar Couwenberg appointed Honorary Professor at the UG/Campus Fryslân

    Professor Oscar Couwenberg was appointed Honorary Professor of Corporate Governance at the University of Groningen/Campus Fryslân. Couwenberg was previously the Dean of the Faculty of Spatial Sciences of the University of Groningen and is currently...

  • 23 September 2020

    Discount on publishing open access in MDPI journals

    Effective immediately, UG-authors are entitled to a discount when publishing open access in one of the 271 journals from publisher MDPI. Corresponding authors from the UG will receive a 10% discount on the article processing charge. The only...

  • 15 September 2020

    The University of Groningen nominations for the Klokhuis Science Prize

    This year, the University of Groningen has submitted four research projects to compete for the national Klokhuis Science Prize. The aim of this prize is to introduce a young and wide audience to academic research. The winning project will be...