Alderson Points Out Covid Privacy Issues On Surat, Vadodara Municipal Websites

NEW DELHI: At least two municipal corporations in Gujarat, Surat and Vadodara, have published a list of people who tested positive on their websites. The French hacker, who follows the pseudonym, pointed out the violation by sharing screenshots of these lists.

He has listed 943 names, along with their addresses, which is marked on a map. The list, divided into three categories: active (red dots), healed/downloaded (blue dots) and death (black dots), is easily accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.

Hello @MySuratMySMC, even sick or dead, people deserve privacy. Posting patients' personal data # Covid19 on a government website and violating medical confidentiality seems to be the new normal in India ... Greetings, Alderson wrote around 4pm, while sharing an image, which had redacted the details of individuals. When TOI reviewed the list around 8 p.m., it was still available on the corporation's website.

When asked about the privacy of patients whose names are published on the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) website, Surat Municipal Commissioner Banchhanidhi Pani said that during a pandemic, public health is more important than individual privacy as it is being done to protect people from coming into contact with infected people.

The Vadodara corporation's list, comprising 638 names, is even more exhaustive, but follows a similar pattern. The website's home page has an option called Corona Corner, which takes users to a map of the city. Use red points on the map for active cases, green for recovered patients and black points for deaths registered in the city. The list includes personal data such as a person's name, address, age, sex and the date of the result of their tests.

Previously, Alderson had reported a similar violation by the government, where a board was posted online along with the names of the quarantined people, their GPS coordinates, and the identification of their mobile device. The state government then withdrew the list.

(With contributions from Vijaysinh Parmar)

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