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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNDER DEVELOPMENT UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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Digital Contact Tracing and Surveillance During COVID-19. General and child-specific ethical issues

Balancing the need to collect data to support good decision-making versus the need to protect children from harm created through the collection of the data has never been more challenging than in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The response to the pandemic has seen an unprecedented rapid scaling up of technologies to support digital contact tracing and surveillance. As the pandemic progresses, we are also likely to see the emergence of more applications that link datasets as we seek to better understand the secondary impacts of the pandemic on children and their families.

This working paper explores the implications for privacy as the linking of datasets increases the likelihood that children will be identifiable and consequently, the opportunities for (sensitive) data profiling. It also frequently involves making data available to a broader set of users or data managers.

While it is recognized that reuse of unidentifiable data could potentially serve future public health responses and research, the nature of, access to and use of the data now and in future necessitate accountability, transparency and clear governance processes. It requires that these be in place from the outset. These are needed to ensure that data privacy is protected to the greatest degree possible and that the limitations to the use of these data are clearly articulated.

Digital Contact Tracing and Surveillance During COVID-19. General and child-specific ethical issues
The response to COVID-19 has seen an unprecedented rapid scaling up of technologies to support digital contact tracing and surveillance. The consequent collation and use of personally identifiable data may however pose significant risks to children’s rights. This is compounded by the greater number and more varied players making decisions about how data, including children’s data, are used and how related risks are assessed and handled. This means that we need to establish clear governance processes for these tools and the data collection process and engage with a broader set of government and industry partners to ensure that children’s rights are not overlooked.
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UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.

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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives we’ve begun will provide the broad range of evidence needed to inform our work to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and preparation of interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The research projects cover a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies.