COVID-19: on “privacy zealots”, again

Let’s  come back once again to the subject of “privacy zealots” and fundamental rights to clarify some concepts that should be clear but, indeed, are not yet clear enough:

  • “privacy” does not mean confidentiality. The investigative journalist, the drug trafficker and the unfaithful partner all want confidentiality about their activities, but for very different reasons that have nothing to do with “privacy”.
  • “privacy” is not even protection of private life, which is a much broader concept and extends (unlike the conventional notion of privacy) also to public places where crimes of harassment and private violence are applied,
  • “privacy” is not the processing of personal data because the processing of personal data is instrumental to the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. So the GDPR does not protect “privacy” but first of all the fundamental good life and from there to go down,
  • “privacy” is not even (as happened with the environment) a new right to be constitutionalized because the Italian Charter already provides specific rules to protect the inviolability of the home, freedom of thought, freedom of movement and secrecy of communications that “cover” the areas that you stubbornly want to bring within the domain of “privacy”.

So, if by “privacy” we mean a shortcut so as not to have to repeat every time freedom of thought and secrecy of communications and all the remaining part of the Constitution, then I may be fine, but it must be clear that we are not talking about positive law.

As for the GDPR, considering that it does not protect “privacy” but fundamental rights and therefore life firstly, its interpretation cannot be directed to limit the possibility of finding a cure for COVID-19 as for any other disease.

Deciding whether or not the identification of people is necessary, whether or not scientists can exchange data, or whether or not it can be collected is a matter for the research and not for the law (or rather, a short-sighted and bureaucratic interpretation by short-sighted and “interpreters” with a vested interest).

I have a couple of questions for all those who keep repeating that “the GDPR is not a limit for the research” and that “the COVID-19 research must respect “privacy”:

  • Why do not you propose something rather than just general statements?
  • In all honesty, would you be willing to lose your lives – or that of another human being – “in the name of privacy”?

The law, in a democracy, is made to protect the human being and not to celebrate with narcissistic self-satisfaction the aesthetic experience of the contemplation of a (limping) legal construction.

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