In the context of the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus, each country has implemented a set of measures to stop the spread of the virus and its cases. Although confinement has been the initial measure adopted by most countries, their own strategies to control and not lengthen this situation have given way to a new horizon, where technology is key to being able to return to a normal situation in the movements of life in society.
Several countries around the world, highlighting China, Singapore or South Korea as pioneers, have used technology, together with more restrictive measures, in order to stabilize the situation and, even, in some cases, raise the confinement situation. In general, the positive effects have been achieved by applying strategies based on the mobility control and contact tracing by proximity of the population, as well as health monitoring measures based on recurring tests such as evaluating the body temperature of individuals.
However, the success of this technological strategy has been questioned by the controversy that arises around the privacy of personal data. In the most extreme case, some critics have pointed out that, China is taking this to its advantage and using these innovative systems as an excellent strategy to further expand its invasive system of social surveillance.
At this point, technology is the key again, since it is essential to help minimize the spread of SARS-CoV, to control possible new outbreaks, and allowing it to be done while respecting the privacy of the population. Therefore, several countries have valued and worked on decentralized data models based on self-sovereign identity systems.
Privacy protection systems
The self-sovereign identity allows each person to have a digital identity, associated with their real identity, with which to manage and safeguard their personal data. In other words, it allows citizens to demonstrate any competence without the need to reveal the rest of their personal information.
Applied within the framework of the measures taken by COVID-19, the success of the self-sovereign identity is that the individual can demonstrate whether or not they are infected, when required, without having to show any other sensitive information, as could be their name or address.
Likewise, in the specific case of using a mobile application to perform contact tracing between people and sources of contagion, it can be done without revealing personal information, since the data is in the hands of the user, who can decide whether to share it, or not.
Blockchain y SSI
A self-sovereign identity system (SSI) is characterized by developing on a decentralized model, that is, the identity data of the population is not stored or recorded in centralized systems, but rather in a decentralized network where no entity has the control. To create this ecosystem, blockchain technology is ideal.
Furthermore, the blockchain provides definitive proof of veracity and defense against possible manipulations of the individual’s recorded information.
Thus, the combination of sovereign identity, through digital credentials, where the state of health can be demonstrated without the need to show the rest of the personal data; and the blockchain, which allows creating a decentralized consensus that provides security to the system, allows creating applications where the security of the population does not harm the individual’s own privacy.
Technology can help minimize the spread of the coronavirus, as well as control potential new outbreaks (as has been reflected in Asian countries). It allows doing it by providing privacy.
Specifically, considering the different proposals that are being developed to combat the pandemic, such as proximity contact systems via Bluetooth and digital identity, SSI (Self-sovereign Identity) technology, and the blockchain, it is conclusive that technology is ideal to achieve the objectives safeguarding the point of anonymity to the users and guaranteeing the security of the system.
COVID-19 has created an entirely new precedent for crisis management. This situation forces us to make decisions in terms of community health, but at the same time avoid as much as possible the collateral damages that at the socioeconomic level arise. It is clear, therefore, the great value that the tools of «control» have over the population to combat the spread of it, and of future viruses, being able to guarantee the greatest possible degree of privacy for people.