DearColleague.us

Letter

Sending Office: Honorable David N. Cicilline
Sent By:
Jonay.Holkins@mail.house.gov

        Request for Signature(s)

Deadline Extended to Tuesday, May 5 at 12 pm

To sign the letter, please fill out this
form
.

 

Current cosigners:  Beyer, Blumenauer, Case, Clay, DeFazio, Demings, Deutch, Escobar, Gay, Huffman,

Lawrence, Lieu, Malinowski, McGovern, Moulton, Neguse, Norton, Pressley, Raskin, Takano

 

Dear Colleague,

Please join me in sending a letter to House leadership requesting that the next COVID-19 relief package provide safeguards for the use of mobile technology as a public health surveillance tool and ensure protections for individual privacy.

Contact tracing has long served as a central surveillance tool to combat the spread of infectious disease. Many state and local
governments are now looking to mobile technology as a method of tracking, identifying new cases, and notifying people of their potential exposure to COVID-19.  There is

widespread consensus
among public health experts, including the
World Health Organization
and
Surgeon General Jerome Adams
, that effective contact tracing will be essential for reopening the economy. While mobile technology can enhance traditional contact tracing systems, consumers will be left with varying privacy standards set in the terms of
service by creators of mobile applications.  As we take steps in the direction of re-opening the economy, Congress must also establish safeguards to protect the privacy of Americans. 

If you would like to sign the letter, please fill out this
form
.  If you have any questions, please contact Jonay Foster Holkins in my office at
jonay.holkins@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

 

David N. Cicilline

Member of Congress

 

Letter Text:

April 30, 2020

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi

Speaker

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

 

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy

Minority Leader

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

 

 

Dear Madame Speaker and Minority Leader McCarthy:

We write to respectfully urge you to protect Americans’ privacy, data security, and fundamental civil liberties as part of the upcoming stimulus package.

In recent weeks, private-sector companies and government officials across the nation have begun to form partnerships to monitor the spread of the novel coronavirus by using mobile technology to perform contact tracing.[1]
With appropriate safeguards, mobile contact tracing can complement accurate, rapid, and widespread testing to help stem the spread of the virus.[2]  However, if left unprotected, this data can be used to uncover
sensitive information about where a person lives, works, prays and shops. It can also be repurposed to reveal other sensitive information about someone, enable surveillance of political movements and religious activity, among other historically marginalized
communities, along with other negative uses.[3]

To address these concerns, the next COVID-19 relief package must provide safeguards to protect individual privacy and curtail the expansion of government or corporate surveillance. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), “Government
agencies should not use the pandemic to justify the collection of large volumes of data about everyday Americans movements and locations.”[4] At a minimum, these protections should include measures to minimize
and secure the data collected, limits on the collection and retention of contact tracing data to the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, a strict prohibition on the use of this data for purposes that are unrelated to responding to the pandemic—including marketing
activity or law enforcement purposes—and tools for people to access their data to ensure that it is not being misused.

Lastly, we strongly believe that contact tracing is not an alternative to reliable, widespread testing. In recognition of the limits of mobile contact tracing,[5] as well as the potential to leave out vulnerable
populations that lack access to compatible technology, it is important to ensure that the use of contract tracing applications is truly voluntary and failure to use such technologies must not be used in a manner that restricts access to essential services
or activities.

It is not enough to expect that corporations will keep the promises they make in their terms of service. Congress must enact requirements around the collection, use, and retention of personal data and limit that use to efforts that combat this deadly public
health crisis.  We therefore respectfully request that you include robust privacy safeguards for Americans as part of the upcoming stimulus package.

 

Sincerely,

 

David N. Cicilline

Member of Congress

 


[1] Victoria Colliver, San Francisco’s New Contact Tracing Program Could Help California Emerge From Isolation, Politico (April 15, 2020),

https://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2020/04/15/san-franciscos-new-contact-tracing-program-could-help-california-emerge-from-isolation-1276828

[2] Sidney Fussell, The Apple-Google Contact Tracing Plan Won’t Stop Covid Alone, Wired (April 14, 2020),

https://www.wired.com/story/apple-google-contact-tracing-wont-stop-covid-alone/

[3] EPIC Statement on COVID Contact Tracing to U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce (April 15, 2020),  

https://epic.org/testimony/congress/EPIC-HEC-Contact-Tracing-Apr2020.pdf

[5] Jay Stanley and Jennifer Stisa Granick,
The Limits of Location Tracking in an Epidemic, ACLU (April 8, 2020),
https://www.aclu.org/report/aclu-white-paper-limits-location-tracking-epidemic?redirect=aclu-white-paper-limits-location-tracking-epidemic

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