Data Privacy, Security, & Consumer Protection
In March and April 2020, governments and health organizations all over the world scrambled to inform and protect their citizens and patients as the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, swept across the globe. Some federal governments in countries such as South Korea, Italy and Israel elected to harness technologies such as surveillance-camera footage, smartphone location data and credit card purchase records to help trace the recent movements of coronavirus patients in order to establish virus transmission chains, attempting to slow the spread of the virus at all costs. This technological response to a global health crisis has brought questions around data privacy and security to the forefront. It forces state agencies, private companies, and individuals to wrestle with an essential question: How do organizations balance collecting data to solve problems for the public good while respecting individuals right to privacy in the 21st century? This question is increasingly relevant for TxDOT as an agency that collects and stores sensitive data related to travel patterns, personal information of residents who participate in programs and public engagement, toll payment information and other pieces of sensitive data. This paper explores key strategies that public agencies, regulators, and private companies can take to keep consumer data safe and decrease the risk of a malicious data breach.