South Korea Holds Onto Patient Data From Prior Coronavirus, Worrying Privacy Groups

Employees wearing protective suits fumigate an art hall with antiseptic option as a precaution against the spread of the Middle East respiratory syndrome in Seoul, South Korea, in June 2015.

Lee Jin-man/AP

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Lee Jin-man/AP

Employees wearing protective fits fumigate an art hall with antibacterial solution as a safety measure against the spread of the Middle East breathing syndrome in Seoul, South Korea, in June 2015.

Lee Jin-man/AP

Viewpoint surveys reveal most South Koreans authorize of their governments handling of the brand-new coronavirus and numerous are willing to quit some personal privacy in exchange for security from the infection.

The information is from the countrys clients who were infected with the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, which in South Korea triggered the biggest outbreak outside the Middle East in 2015. That outbreak led the nation to introduce a robust contact-tracing program that health authorities currently use to combat the brand-new coronavirus.

” So,” he concluded, “the federal government and health authorities decided to retain the clients details completely.”

In a democracy that declares to secure information privacy, as South Korea does, the only justification for approving the federal government broad rights to collect and save personal information is an emergency situation, argues Seo Chae-wan, an attorney with civic group Lawyers for Democratic Society.

Se Eun Gong contributed reporting in Seoul.

Oh Byoung-il, a privacy supporter with Korean Progressive Network, says the federal governments handling of information from MERS has serious ramifications for the existing one, which involves far more clients.

” Several years have passed considering that the last MERS patient,” he states in an interview, “and it appears clear that the government is violating that constraint.”

” It exposes a dispute,” he says, “in between their declaration that they will erase COVID-19 clients info and the practice that they have followed up until now, which is to not erase the MERS details.”

Still, the way information personal privacy supporters see it, retaining personal details indefinitely might deteriorate the general public trust in health authorities that has actually been a vital asset in the nations battle against the brand-new coronavirus.

South Korea has actually acknowledged it is completely keeping data on clients from a previous virus epidemic, distressing personal privacy supporters that the federal government is avoiding legal safeguards securing personal info.

But South Koreas Personal Information Protection Act says that after residents gathered information serve their purpose, the government should erase them without hold-up.

South Korea has actually been credited for initial success at including COVID-19 within its borders, partly by utilizing widespread testing and sophisticated contact-tracing technologies. The specific private information health authorities gather and their practice of advertising the whereabouts of infection carriers, however, might not be accepted in some democracies. Pushback from activists and professionals has likewise limited South Koreas usage of some measures, such as compulsory tracking bracelets for those under self-quarantine.

The personal information consists of names, age, contact, occupation and gender details, according to an official action to a query from the Korean Progressive Network, a civic group in Seoul.

Authorities did not state what occurred to other info gathered by the government, consisting of charge card records, cellular phone place information and security electronic camera footage.

” When the outbreak ended, popular opinion was that the government needs to take follow-up measures to resolve any clients or issues health concerns even after they are released from treatment,” Kwon Jun-wook, director of the National Institute of Health, stated in response to NPRs question at a press conference previously in June about what happened to MERS clients information.