Microsoft Issues Seven User Privacy Principles for Health Applications

Microsoft has created seven principles that governments, academics, business leaders and public health entities must follow to ensure system and data privacy amid COVID-19 response efforts.

Microsoft’s Julie Brill and Peter Lee, corporate vice presidents at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post published Monday that these principles encompass a range of issues including consensual data collection and provision of cloud or on-premises storage options to ensure that location and health status information are transmitted safely.

Brill and Lee said that companies and health authorities can now benefit from tools and concepts such as differential privacy, decentralized identities, open-source databases and contract-tracing protocols that preserve individual privacy when using COVID-19 testing and tracing technologies.

They added that the principles are meant to “help advance the discussion” based on the need for people to have control over their data and hold companies accountable for such information.

“Addressing global problems of this magnitude understandably creates an urgent need for innovative uses of data to fight the pandemic, and we believe these measures must take privacy into account,” they said.

Brill and Lee’s comments come after Microsoft partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop a self-checker tool for COVID-19 symptoms.

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