Carnegie Mellon University
July 02, 2020

Cranor featured in The Morning Consult on data privacy

EPP Professor, and director of CyLab Security and Privacy Institute, Lorrie Cranor was recently featured in The Morning Consult in the article covering new data privacy concerns in the wake of contact tracing of COVID cases.

With academic institutions and technology companies hunkering down to create apps to track those who could have been exposed to COVID-19, polling shows potential users would be most likely to trust federal agencies and university researchers with keeping the data collected about them secure and private. 

Lorrie Cranor, said the level of privacy risks involved with contact-tracing technologies depends on the model being used by app developers. For instance, Cranor says systems aimed at collecting and re-creating the precise location of each person’s cellphone to show where everyone is going and where they’ve been, while also including identifiable information, would be the most extreme violation of privacy. On the other end of the spectrum are systems where someone’s phone collects data about other phones that are nearby and then sends out codes to anyone who’s been near someone who tested positive for COVID-19. 

“The devil’s in the details,” said Cranor, who served as chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission during the last year of the Obama administration. “There are proposals out there where basically the data stays on my phone and doesn’t get released at all, it’s only used to inform me. And there are proposals out there where the data goes to a central source. That makes a big difference.”

To read more about data concerns in the age of COVID, go here.