NewsThe End of Privacy

Risk of exposure

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Science  30 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6221, pp. 498-500
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6221.498

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Summary

Protecting medical information is difficult enough, but when you fall ill during an outbreak of a new or particularly scary disease, everything appears to become fair game. It's not just reporters who pore over your life. Doctors and public health officials, too, want to know where you have been, what you have done, and with whom. The more widely they share any of that information, the greater the risk to your privacy. A rise in the number of new and re-emerging diseases in the past 2 decades—including SARS, MERS, and several influenza subtypes—has brought such problems painfully into focus, and the advent of social media and cell phone cameras has increased the pressure.