SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - Andrew Zwicker, the assemblyman for New Jersey’s 16th district, has sponsored a bill about contact tracing to the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey. The bill requires that all personal information collected for efforts in tracing the Coronavirus be deleted permanently after 30 days. To view the bill in its entirety, click here.
This includes information from Bluetooth devices and global positioning systems. The Commissioner of Health shall require that all systems that are collecting such data be automatically deleted after 30 days. Any misuse or unlawful disclosure of this information will result in a $100,000 fine, according to the bill.
“Contact Tracing” is the process that traces people who were in contact with those who have tested positive for COVID-19, in order to track down the spread and identify those who may be carrying the virus. Countries like South Korea and China have used extensive contact tracing in order to maintain the spread of COVID-19. In New Jersey, towns like Newark and Paterson have begun to implement contact tracing efforts.
Zwicker emphasizes that he believes that contact tracing will save lives, but it must be done with trust between the public and the government, as personal data will be given voluntarily. He hopes that this will encourage more people to engage in contact tracing without the worry of giving away their personal information.
“One of the ways to build trust is to make sure that all data collected is used to save lives and for public health and nothing else,” Zwicker said, “when it is no longer needed it will be deleted.”
New Jersey is contracted with a private database company, the Communicable Disease Reporting & Surveillance System (CDRSS), to act as a central database for all information. The bill ensures that the company is working within the proper guidelines and will face a penalty if they are not met, according to Zwicker. As of today, Zwicker has not discussed this legislation with anyone from CDRSS, but he has discussed it at length with the governor’s office.
Currently, Zwicker is waiting to hear back from the Health Commissioner about deleting data after 30 days. Zwicker picked that length because it is more than double the usual known incubation period for the Coronavirus, as symptoms often appear after 14 days. Based on guidance from health officials, Zwicker will extend the measure to more than 30 days if necessary.
“We need contact tracing. Until there is a vaccine, we need to stop the spread of this virus,” Zwicker said, “and as we are slowly reopening the state and our economy, this is a key part of what has to happen.”