Inpher Advises Senate Commerce Committee: Privacy-Enhancing Technologies Should Guide Data-Driven COVID-19 Response

Inpher Advises Senate Commerce Committee: Privacy-Enhancing Technologies Should Guide Data-Driven COVID-19 Response

In advance of the Congressional hearing on ‘Enlisting Big Data in the Fight Against Coronavirus’ held April 9, 2020, Inpher submitted a statement to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee to highlight the critical need for cryptographic privacy-enhancing technologies for accountable data-driven measures against COVID-19.

Inpher Senior Privacy Counsel and Head of Policy, Sunny Seon Kang, advised Chairman Wicker and Ranking Member Cantwell to consider the need for built-in, technical safeguards for privacy that can help optimize beneficial uses of data in epidemiology whilst protecting individual and societal privacy.

Ms. Kang urged the Committee to reject the false dichotomy of “lives over privacy” and instead promote progressive discussions how modern privacy-enhancing technologies like homomorphic encryption (FHE) and secure multi-party computation (MPC) can reduce barriers to innovative public health technologies that are efficient, accurate, and equitable. She emphasized:

“Accurate data-driven responses to COVID-19 require more data points. Equitable public health responses require more data sources to inform policymakers which vulnerable groups are left out of current efforts. Long-term privacy and security require the decentralization of data. Cryptographic privacy safeguards have the potential to address them all.”

FHE and MPC harness benefits for both privacy and data-driven epidemiology. Cryptographic privacy safeguards can enhance predictive AI for COVID-19 diagnostics, tracing, and monitoring, with access to heterogeneous datasets which health authorities currently lack. Encrypted and distributed computing can also prevent the consolidation of location data in Big Tech, which can impose significant liability to consumers as a central point of privacy and security failures.

Inpher is at the forefront of policy discussions on how cryptographic safeguards can protect privacy and ensure accountable data governance during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to us today!