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3 Law, Tech. & Hum. 1 (2021)

handle is hein.journals/lwtchmn3 and id is 1 raw text is: https :11thjIgutedu aul                                                      LAW, TECHNOLOGY AND HUMANS
Volume 3 (1) 2021                                                             https://doi.org/10.5204/Ithj.1924
Pulling Together or Pulling Apart: Opportunities
for Privacy in a Pandemic?
'Mark Taylor, Megan Richardson and Stacey Steele
The University of Melbourne, Australia
Introduction: Pulling Together or Pulling Apart?
When we began writing this introduction, we were experiencing another strict lockdown in Melbourne, Australia. Coming to
the end of our five-day forced quarantine, we were reminded of the end of our earlier 111 days of lockdown in 2020. At that
time, we transitioned from physical restrictions on mobility to a more tenuous and contestable set of restrictions on privacy that
impacted all levels of our everyday lives. To give just one example, when venturing into a cafe or restaurant after the 2020
lockdown, it soon became a familiar experience to be asked to provide a name and contact number for the purposes of 'contact
tracing'. This process for identifying close and casual contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases quickly evolved into a relatively
sophisticated process, entailing a mix of QR codes, smartphones and digital platforms. However, it started naively. In the
earliest days, the information was often captured on a piece of paper, attached to a clipboard and left somewhere prominent for
patrons and visitors to take turns using-and even record for themselves, for instance, on their phones. The idea of writing
one's name and telephone number on a piece of paper upon entry to a cafe or restaurant and then leaving it in a prominent place
would have seemed absurd just 12 months earlier. Of course, not everyone complied, and there were complaints from contact
tracers that occasionally people recorded the names 'Donald Duck' or 'Mickey Mouse' and gave false telephone numbers.2 For
those that did voluntarily comply truthfully, there may still have been a sense of 'privacy interference', however that might be
understood (for example, because the information pertained to a sense of an interior private life, or simply because it concerned
personal information about an identified or identifiable individual). The key question-at least among privacy scholars such as
ourselves-was, could these processes be justified in the context of a global pandemic?
We introduce this special issue on Privacy and Pandemics by noting how difficult it is to answer definitively even the first half
of this question: does asking people to write given name (family name was not legally required in Victoria) and telephone
number on a piece of paper in a public space, and leaving that open to view and potential capture by others, constitute a prima
facie interference with privacy? The answer to this question will likely turn on an interpretation of terms such as 'voluntary',
'public space' and 'private information' and the relevance of such terms to the operative idea of privacy and its individual and
social importance.3 Indeed, without contradiction, it is possible to hold more than one idea of 'privacy' simultaneously and
perhaps answer the question differently from each perspective.
' This article reflects the authors' personal opinions. Statements do not represent the views or policies of employers, past or present, or any
other organisation with which the authors are affiliated.
2 Mark Saunokonoko, 'Mickey Mouse' Sign-ins Causing Problems for NSW Contact Tracers, 9News, 21 December 2020,
hps://www .9news.cor.au/nationa/coronavirus-turramurra-northern-beach es-hair-salon-victim-of-fake-sign-ins/6f8f96a6-8859-433c-
3 Luke Cooper, Coronavirus: Privacy Concerns Over Contact Tracing of Personal Details in Public Venues, 9News, 19 July 2020,
https://www.9news &omtau/nationaI/coronavirus-austraiia-contacttracin                          -
Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
International Licence. As an open access journal, articles are free to use with proper attribution. ISSN: 2652-4074

© The Author/s 2021

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