Covid-19 Contact Tracing – A Solution? A Privacy & GDPR Nightmare? A Technical Bridge Too Far?

Webinar Recording

Contact-tracing apps on mobile phones have been a key element of plans to get societies back to "normal" in the face of Covid-19. The promise of automatically identifying who may be at risk of contracting Covid-19 is attractive, but effective use of such apps faces a host of barriers. Privacy risks have been at the forefront, since any centralised solution that automatically reports contacts to health authorities would also be a surveillance tool. Privacy regulators have called foul under GPDR, Apple and Google have refused to equip their operating systems to deliver such functions, and the public seems unlikely to accept such surveillance even if it were on offer. And there are serious technical and behavioural questions about whether contact-tracing apps would work even if they were widely adopted. We discuss the opportunity, challenges and alternatives.

Read the 2018 report by Maury Shenk and Michael Mainelli on "Information Rules: Smart Ledger Architectures & Distributed Permissions":


Maury Shenk's experience focuses at the intersection of technology, law and education. He is co-founder and CEO of edtech start-up LearnerShape, director of global testing and certification company PeopleCert, and founder and managing director of Lily Innovation, through which he handles a portfolio of other investment and advisory activities. Maury is a dual-qualified US/UK lawyer and former managing partner of the London office of global law firm Steptoe & Johnson, where he remains an advisor. He has a deep practical understanding of technology, especially artificial intelligence, IT, telecommunications and information security. Maury is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School. He is a lover of languages – a native speaker of English (the American version), proficient in French and Russian, comfortable in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, and dilettante in German, Italian, Norwegian and Greek. He is also a guitar player and an avid competitive and recreational sailor.

Professor Michael Mainelli FCCA FCSI (Hon) FBCS, Executive Chairman, Z/Yen Group, is a qualified accountant, securities professional, computer specialist, and management consultant, educated at Harvard University and Trinity College Dublin. Michael gained his PhD at the London School of Economics where he was also a Visiting Professor of Innovation & IT. Michael is Emeritus Professor, Fellow, & Trustee at Gresham College where he created the London Finance initiative asking “when would we know our financial system is working?” His third book, The Price of Fish: A New Approach to Wicked Economics and Better Decisions , won the Independent Publisher Book Awards Finance, Investment & Economics Gold Prize. Michael is an Alderman and Sheriff of the City of London 2019-2020.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

12:00 - 12:45 London Time


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  • Maury Shenk
    Maury Shenk
    Managing Director
    Lily Innovations
  • michael Mainelli.png
    Professor Michael Mainelli
    Executive Chairman
    Z/Yen Group