An interesting patent was filed on 30 November 2020 and granted on 31 August 2021.
Invented by Israelis Dr Gal Ehrlich and Mr Maier Fenster, the patent US 11,107,588 B2 titled “Methods and Systems of Prioritizing Treatments, Vaccination, Testing and/or Activities while Protecting the Privacy of Individuals” is a form of contact tracing.
If I have read it correctly, an individual electronic device—presumably something like one’s mobile phone—when in proximity of another will exchange the system-generated ID. From that, a “score” is calculated based on the contacts with other electronic devices. If necessary, a notification will then be sent to the user of the electronic device with instructions to receive treatment. There is a server involved but the process is meant to be anonymous.
On the technical side of things, it is admittedly fascinating and it’s not without merit, but one has to wonder how easily this process can be abused. To be fair, anything can be twisted and I make no comment on the intentions of the inventors.
Nonetheless, this idea feels like a form of social credit score, except it’s more like contact credit score.
A few obvious questions come to mind. To what extent can encryption protect individual data? Does it all remain private? If score calculations require additional parameters and data (from a server), then who writes these parameters and where does that data come from? The math can make a given disease seem significantly more or less contagious than it really is, and the implications are obvious.
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