By Cansu Canca
As coronavirus cases increase worldwide, institutions keep their communities informed with frequent updates—but only up to a point. They share minimal information such as number of cases, but omit the names of individuals and identifying information.
Many institutions are legally obligated to protect individual privacy, but is this prohibition of transparency ethically justified?
Some even go a step further and ask you, an individual in a community, to choose privacy over transparency as well. Harvard—alongside with Yale, Chicago, and Northwestern—requests you to “Please Respect Individuals’ Privacy. Anonymity for these individuals remains paramount. Please respect their privacy—even if you believe you know who they are—so they can focus completely on their health” (emphasis in original).
But do you have an ethical obligation to do so at the time of a pandemic?