President Trump’s son-in-law, the White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, is apparently working on creating a national coronavirus surveillance system for monitoring patients and tracking hospital bed availability.
Kushner’s idea requires the creation of a federal database containing the medical records of all Americans.
Between advocacy groups or lawmakers, not many are welcoming the idea of trusting the government with such sensitive data.
Politico reports that Kushner’s team is in talks with tech companies to create a federal database that would compile data from numerous private databases to help the government track hospital bed availability, emergency rooms’ status, and patient inflow.
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Based on what advocacy groups and other prominent personalities have to say, it becomes clear that the idea received a huge pushback.
For instance, the executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP), Albert Fox Cahn, called the whole idea of creating such a database “deeply dangerous”.
“A federal health database would be deeply dangerous. We cannot trust the Trump administration with the health records of millions of Americans, especially if the data is collected without any protections against misuse by law enforcement or ICE. Not only will a hastily-built database have errors, the data will almost certainly be used by government agencies for investigations that have no connection to COVID-19,” said Cahn.
Senator Edward Markey said that the Trump government has not inspired any confidence about its competency in handling such critical information.
“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,” the Massachusetts senator said in a statement, later adding: “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,” said Markey.