Washington state establishes new privacy safeguards for coronavirus contact tracing

Washington state Governor Jay Inslee. (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation Friday designed to protect residents’ privacy as the state conducts contact tracing to contain COVID-19 outbreaks.

The proclamation prevents personal, identifiable information that coronavirus contact tracers collect from being shared via a public disclosure request. Many documents collected by the government can be accessed through open records laws.

“The success of the response to the COVID-19 epidemic depends in part on the free flow of information and individuals’ willingness to share information and cooperate with public health authorities,” Inslee said in a statement. “Ensuring the protection of a person’s personally identifiable information may determine whether that person will fully cooperate with COVID-19 case investigators and contact tracers.”

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