Balancing personal privacy and public safety during COVID-19: The case of South Korea

Na Young Ahn, Jun Eun Park, Dong Hoon Lee, Paul C. Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


There has been vigorous debate on how different countries responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. To secure public safety, South Korea actively used personal information at the risk of personal privacy whereas France encouraged voluntary cooperation at the risk of public safety. In this article, after a brief comparison of contextual differences with France, we focus on South Korea's approaches to epidemiological investigations. To evaluate the issues pertaining to personal privacy and public health, we examine the usage patterns of original data, de-identification data, and encrypted data. Our specific proposal discusses the COVID index, which considers collective infection, outbreak intensity, availability of medical infrastructure, and the death rate. Finally, we summarize the findings and lessons for future research and the policy implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171325-171333
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Access
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • COVID index
  • COVID-19
  • De-identification
  • Epidemiological investigation
  • Infectious diseases
  • Pandemic
  • Personal information
  • Personal privacy
  • Policy
  • Public safety
  • South Korea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Balancing personal privacy and public safety during COVID-19: The case of South Korea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this