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COVID Contact Tracing: Privacy implications & considerations

COVID Contact Tracing: Privacy implications & considerations

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Robert Cattanach, partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney, says contact tracing has raised a variety of concerns and has been looking into it since COVID began.

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The Potential Of COVID-19 Contact Tracing

"Almost as soon as COVID-19 began ravaging the world, countries turned their hopes to mobile apps as a weapon to fight against it. Contact tracing was quickly recognized as a potential tool to monitor, and possibly contain, the spread of the virus. The ubiquitous presence of cell phones and their capacity to record and transmit data offered a perfect application to track the risk of potential transmissions of the novel coronavirus. However, the potentially intrusive nature of cell phone tracing raised a myriad of privacy concerns," Cattanach says.

"There are essentially two types of contact tracing.  The first is the Apple-Google Bluetooth method, where users voluntarily download the app and they are alerted if they come within a certain distance of another individual who likewise voluntarily installed the app, and is subsequently diagnosed with COVID.  There is no central repository of who has been exposed, where the virus is spreading, or who has self-disclosed their own infection.  From a privacy perspective, this is terrific, since its completely voluntary, and you don’t have to worry about anyone knowing that you as an individual have tested positive – all anyone will know is that they have been in the near vicinity of an infected person.  The problem is that this doesn’t appear to work very well from a public health perspective, since there is no central data base collecting aggregate information that can be used to identify hot spots, alert local authorities to the possibility that some form of intervention may be needed (e.g. restrictions on public gatherings, restaurant limitations, etc.)  This is why several European countries declined to use this approach, and only a handful of states in the US are intending to implement it," Cattanach says.

"The second technology is a tracking mechanism that connects to a central repository so health officials can carefully monitor the spread and take steps to intervene as appropriate.  This too is voluntary in the US (by way comparison, Israel and South Korea have made their programs mandatory), and data is collected in a way that allows health officials to monitor the spread and take corrective action if necessary, but supposedly is not shared or used for any other purpose.  The challenge, however, has been that even though the technology has been touted as avoiding the compromise of privacy, in fact problems have arisen where location data in is inadvertently being shared with other entities.  For example, South Dakota’s contact-tracing app was sending personal identifying information to Google and Foursquare, despite claiming not to share any data," Cattanach says.

The Three Important Implications

"What implications will these experiences have going forward?  Three important ones immediately come to mind:

  1. State-by-state approaches produce a patchwork quilt of data and effectiveness, which will add further impetus to more uniform federal approaches to privacy issues;
  2. This will provide real-life context for the ongoing discussion of how best to resolve the tension between privacy and the public interest, and perhaps add a dose of reality to the idealistic notion that individual privacy interests are sacrosanct under all circumstances; and
  3. Technology designed to obtain sensitive personal information but at the same time protect privacy interests will continue to be viewed with healthy skepticism," Cattanach says.

About the Author

Robert Cattanach is a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney. He has previously worked as a trial attorney for the United States Department of Justice and was also special counsel to the Secretary of the Navy. Today he is a expert on CCPA, cybersecurity and data breaches, privacy and telecommunications, and international regulatory compliance.

The post COVID Contact Tracing: Privacy implications & considerations appeared first on ValueWalk.

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GDP Slows Sharply in Third Quarter Due to Supply Chain Pressures

Service consumption rose at a 7.9 percent rate, despite the delta variant.
The post GDP Slows Sharply in Third Quarter Due to Supply Chain Pressures appeared first on Center for Economic and Policy Research.

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Service consumption rose at a 7.9 percent rate, despite the delta variant.

GDP grew at just a 2.0 percent annual rate in the third quarter as supply chain issues hampered growth in several key areas. Durable goods consumption contracted at a 26.2 percent annual rate, knocking 2.7 percentage points off the quarter’s growth. Equipment investment fell at a 3.2 percent annual rate, while housing construction dropped at a 7.7 percent annual rate, knocking 0.18 percentage points and 0.38 percentage points off the quarter’s growth, respectively.

Even with Third-Quarter Declines, Vehicle Consumption Is Still Far Above Pre-Pandemic Levels

The drop in third-quarter car sales accounted for 2.39 percentage points of the hit to GDP from durables. However, car sales are still 4.3 percent above the year-round average for 2020. This means that the supply chain problems are stemming from extraordinary demand, which will fade in the quarters ahead, not an inability to supply a normal quantity of vehicles.

Housing Is Also Above Pre-Pandemic Levels, In Spite of Third Quarter Decline

Even with the 7.7 percent drop in housing construction, which followed a drop of 11.7 percent in the second quarter, output in the sector was still more than 10 percent above the 2019 average. It will likely remain somewhere near the current level in future quarters, after jumping sharply due to low interest rates at the start of the pandemic.

Consumption of Services Grew at a 7.9 Percent Annual Rate in the Quarter

In spite of concerns about the spread of the delta variant, services grew at a solid 7.9 percent annual rate following growth of 11.5 percent in the second quarter. However, service consumption is still 1.6 percent below its pre-pandemic level. Recreation services and transportation, which is largely commuting expenses, account for the bulk of this drop. The category of food services and accommodations rose at a 12.4 percent annual rate in the quarter (in spite of delta) adding 0.54 percentage points to growth. Real restaurant sales are actually above pre-pandemic levels.

Inventories Added 2.07 Percentage Points to GDP in the Third Quarter

This was all due to growth in non-farm inventories, which added 2.14 percentage points to growth. Farm inventories continued a fall that began in the third quarter of 2015. The drop in non-farm inventories presumably is the result of both relatively low prices over this period and weather conditions. It is important to realize that inventories still declined at a $77.7 billion annual rate in the third quarter, but this was still a positive for GDP since it was much slower than the $168.5 billion rate of decline in the second quarter. As inventories stop shrinking and start to rebuild, they will be a big positive for growth in future quarters. 

Nonresidential Investment Grew at a 1.8 Percent Annual Rate

Declines in equipment investment and structures largely offset an increase of 12.2 percent in investment in intellectual products. The rise in investment in intellectual products was the fourth consecutive double-digit increase. The 3.2 percent decline in equipment investment is likely due to supply chain problems, as it had been growing at double-digit rates for the last four quarters and orders remain high. The drop in structure investment is due to less demand for office and retail space, which is likely to be a permanent feature of the post-pandemic world.

Trade Deficit Subtracts 1.14 Percentage Points from Growth

A rise in the trade deficit, due to a 2.5 percent drop in exports and a 6.1 percent rise in imports, slowed growth by 1.14 percentage points in the quarter. The rise in imports was all on the service side, which rose at a 44.4 percent annual rate. This was largely US travel abroad, which was up more than 50 percent from the second quarter rate but still less than 60 percent of pre-pandemic level. Foreign travel in the US fell slightly in the quarter and is still just over 30 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Saving Rate Remains Above Pre-Pandemic Levels

The saving rate was 8.9 percent in the quarter, which is well above the 7.5 percent average for the three years before the pandemic. This means that we are still not seeing the story pushed by inflation hawks that people would be spending down the savings they had accumulated during the period where large sectors of the economy were shut down, and they were getting the pandemic checks from the government.

Inflation and the Path Forward

The core Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) rose at a 4.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter, down from 6.1 percent in the second quarter. We are likely to see further slowing inflation as the supply chain problems get resolved in the quarters ahead. Shipping costs will be leveling off, so they will no longer be adding to inflation, and then dropping. It is important to recognize that the profit share of income rose sharply in the last two quarters, which means that rising prices have not been driven by higher labor costs.

CEPR produces same-day analyses of government data on inflation, employment, GDP and other topics.
Follow @DeanBaker13 on Twitter to get his quick-take analysis of government data immediately upon release.

The post GDP Slows Sharply in Third Quarter Due to Supply Chain Pressures appeared first on Center for Economic and Policy Research.

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ECB Leaves Policy Unchanged (As Expected), Will Keep Buying Bonds Until At Least March 2022

ECB Leaves Policy Unchanged (As Expected), Will Keep Buying Bonds Until At Least March 2022

With global bond markets starting to ‘tantrum’ at the short-end, and price-in policy-errors at the long-end, traders are hoping for soothing words…

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ECB Leaves Policy Unchanged (As Expected), Will Keep Buying Bonds Until At Least March 2022

With global bond markets starting to 'tantrum' at the short-end, and price-in policy-errors at the long-end, traders are hoping for soothing words from ECB's Christine Lagarde this morning as the market has shifted notably more hawkish for European rates, pricing in a full rate-hike by the end of 2022 (due to mounting inflation expectations)...

Source: Bloomberg

While no change in policy is expected in the ECB's statement, or a decision on the APP/PEPP's taper timeline (expected in December), so all eyes will be on how (or if) The ECB attempts to shift the market's far more hawkish views on rates than the monetary policy-setters project.

The hawkish market pricing is “hard to reconcile with our view of ECB coming on the dovish side today,” said Piet Christiansen, chief strategist at Danske Bank.

And as expected, The ECB makes no major changes in the policy statement.

Officials reiterated they will continue bond buying at a “moderately lower pace”, and that the pandemic program will run until at least the end of next March.

The Governing Council will continue to conduct net asset purchases under the PEPP with a total envelope of €1,850 billion until at least the end of March 2022 and, in any case, until it judges that the coronavirus crisis phase is over.

The full redline shows very little change in the statement:

Now all eyes back to Lagarde and her press conference at 0830ET for more dovish leanings on rates. So far, she has made it clear that the bank considers the higher prices to be temporary and said the bank won't “overreact” by easing its efforts to keep interest rates low for businesses, governments and consumers. She is expected to argue that the economy still needs extensive support.

*  *  *

Full Statement below:

The Governing Council continues to judge that favourable financing conditions can be maintained with a moderately lower pace of net asset purchases under the pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP) than in the second and third quarters of this year.

The Governing Council also confirmed its other measures, namely the level of the key ECB interest rates, its forward guidance on their likely future evolution, its purchases under the asset purchase programme (APP), its reinvestment policies and its longer-term refinancing operations. Specifically:

Key ECB interest rates

The interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.50% respectively.

In support of its symmetric two per cent inflation target and in line with its monetary policy strategy, the Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present or lower levels until it sees inflation reaching two per cent well ahead of the end of its projection horizon and durably for the rest of the projection horizon, and it judges that realised progress in underlying inflation is sufficiently advanced to be consistent with inflation stabilising at two per cent over the medium term. This may also imply a transitory period in which inflation is moderately above target.

Asset purchase programme (APP)

Net purchases under the APP will continue at a monthly pace of €20 billion. The Governing Council continues to expect monthly net asset purchases under the APP to run for as long as necessary to reinforce the accommodative impact of its policy rates, and to end shortly before it starts raising the key ECB interest rates.

The Governing Council also intends to continue reinvesting, in full, the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the APP for an extended period of time past the date when it starts raising the key ECB interest rates and, in any case, for as long as necessary to maintain favourable liquidity conditions and an ample degree of monetary accommodation.

Pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP)

The Governing Council will continue to conduct net asset purchases under the PEPP with a total envelope of €1,850 billion until at least the end of March 2022 and, in any case, until it judges that the coronavirus crisis phase is over.

The Governing Council continues to judge that favourable financing conditions can be maintained with a moderately lower pace of net asset purchases under the PEPP than in the second and third quarters of this year.

The Governing Council will purchase flexibly according to market conditions and with a view to preventing a tightening of financing conditions that is inconsistent with countering the downward impact of the pandemic on the projected path of inflation. In addition, the flexibility of purchases over time, across asset classes and among jurisdictions will continue to support the smooth transmission of monetary policy. If favourable financing conditions can be maintained with asset purchase flows that do not exhaust the envelope over the net purchase horizon of the PEPP, the envelope need not be used in full. Equally, the envelope can be recalibrated if required to maintain favourable financing conditions to help counter the negative pandemic shock to the path of inflation.

The Governing Council will continue to reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the PEPP until at least the end of 2023. In any case, the future roll-off of the PEPP portfolio will be managed to avoid interference with the appropriate monetary policy stance.

Refinancing operations

The Governing Council will continue to provide ample liquidity through its refinancing operations. In particular, the third series of targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO III) remains an attractive source of funding for banks, supporting bank lending to firms and households.

***

The Governing Council stands ready to adjust all of its instruments, as appropriate, to ensure that inflation stabilises at its two per cent target over the medium term.

 

 

 

 

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/28/2021 - 07:52

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NYC Firefighters Union Tells Members To Defy Vaccine Mandate; NYPD Union Loses Bid To Halt

NYC Firefighters Union Tells Members To Defy Vaccine Mandate; NYPD Union Loses Bid To Halt

Members of New York’s finest are pushing back against Covid-19 vaccine mandates to the point of civil disobedience.

On Wednesday, the head of the…

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NYC Firefighters Union Tells Members To Defy Vaccine Mandate; NYPD Union Loses Bid To Halt

Members of New York's finest are pushing back against Covid-19 vaccine mandates to the point of civil disobedience.

On Wednesday, the head of the New York City firefighters union said that he told unvaccinated members to report for duty regardless of an order from Mayor Bill de Blasio threatening to place them on unpaid leave if they refuse to take the jab, according to Reuters.

"I have told my members that if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," said Andrew Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. "If they are told they cannot work, it will be the department and city of New York that sends them home. And it will be the department and the city of New York that has failed to protect the citizens of New York," he added.

According to Ansbro, firefighters who have put their lives on the line during the pandemic feel "insulted" by de Blasio's order, and New Yorkers will be the ones to suffer if the mayor carries out his threat.

"Fires are going to burn longer. Heart attack victims are going to be laying on the floor longer," Ansbro told Fox News Radio.

"People in stuck elevators are going to be stuck there for hours if not days." (h/t Summit News)

Ansbro also predicted that 30 to 40% of firehouses in NYC will be closed down if the mandate remains, as up to 45% of the workforce remains unvaccinated.

"On Friday, when they’re tallying the numbers of who complied and who didn’t, they’re going to be faced with a stark reality that they’re going to have to close firehouses down," he said, adding "The mayor is going to be faced with either sending us home or sticking to his guns,” Ansbro continued, adding “And his guns are going to get New York City residents killed."

NYPD loses bid to halt mandate

Meanwhile, a Staten Island Judge denied the Police Benevolent Association's bid to temporarily halt the implementation of the city's vaccine mandate set to take effect Nov. 1, according to CBS News.

The largest police union in the city had argued that de Blasio's policy does not make clear their policy on potential exceptions, including for medical or religious reasons, and does not allow unvaccinated cops enough time to apply for said potential exemptions - which were required to be submitted just one week after the mandate was announced.

"Today's ruling sets the city up for a real crisis. The haphazard rollout of this mandate has created chaos in the NYPD," said PBA President Patrick J. Lynch in a statement. "City Hall has given no reason that a vaccine mandate with a weekly testing option is no longer enough to protect police officers and the public, especially while the number of COVID-19 cases continues to fall."

The union plans to appeal, calling the mandate "arbitrary and capricious" in court documents.

The policy requires police officers, firefighters and other municipal workers get at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Friday or be placed on unpaid leave. Correctional officers on Rikers Island — a New York City prison that has been grappling with staffing shortages and unsafe conditions — will be subject to the mandate on December 1.

The NYPD's vaccination rate has lagged behind the rest of the city — as of Tuesday, the NYPD's vaccination rate is 73%, compared with the 78.2% of adults who have been vaccinated in New York City. The PBA, which represents over 24,000 current NYPD officers, contends that getting the vaccine is a personal medical decision.

The NYPD has about 36,000 officers and about 19,000 civilian staff employees. -CBS News

We noticed nobody's leading with the natural immunity argument, considering that thousands of NYPD officers have recovered from Covid-19.

Watch the latest video at foxnews.com
Tyler Durden Thu, 10/28/2021 - 11:14

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