Press Advisory
Contact: Maria Castilla 703-631-0650
Information Technology, Privacy, and the Pandemic Era
Washington, D.C. February 26th 2021      Dialogue on Diversity opened its Winter series with Webinar I, Information Technology and Privacy, in Times of COVID, on Wednesday, February 24th, 2021. “Today’s Webinar,” announced Ma. Cristina Caballero, Dialogue on Diversity President, “examines the chief issues as we seek to envision and create a much stronger and more resilient post-COVID world As the digital society becomes ever more integrated and collaborative, it is increasingly vital that we uphold our ethical task of using this social space responsibly — and this colloquium will help us find the tools.“ The Webinar has continued the task of bringing the current concepts and aspirations within the global community to bear on the economic and public health problems that beset the U.S. and other countries. The COVID-19 Pandemic occupies center stage in the panorama of the world population’s concerns. Six panelists, all experts in their several fields of research, set forth the compelling facets of the story of scientific acumen, supercharged manufacturing potency, and an energized population..
Dr. Adrian Gropper, Chief Technology Officer at Patient Privacy Rights, led off with a discussion of the world of communications industry giants in a commercial frenzy, pointing out the vast power of the internet heavy-weights, Facebook among them, which have aggrandized untold volumes of information on untold millions of human subjects, all to be rejiggered into commercially useful categories and marketed by the world’s ingenious Information craftspersons, powered by the heavy lifting of the transmitting carriers of the world. The U.S. has finally coordinated its own position (which would have allowed “safe harbor” to big tech companies, with a too easy route to those harbours), joining other nations in the G-20 group to regularize this traffic, and its payments. Privacy of the individual remains to be dealt with. Dr. Gropper is at the intellectual forefront in this privacy thrust.
He was followed by Dr. Henry Pacheco,  a long time key figure in public health research and practice, now heavily occupied in advancing the cause of immunization vaccines, recounted the reluctance sometimes found among Latino communities of the world.  The painstakingly swift development of multiple highly successful vaccines on an astoundingly short research and production schedule has not only saved lives, but forcefully underlines the primacy of the U.S. as the international community’s undoubted scientific and industrial powerhouse. The strengths of the cluster of effective immunizing agents were systematically set forth, along with compelling answers to the fears that have held back many, as Dr. Pacheco’s moving essay concluded with the pointed injunction to his public to seek the benefits of this medical near-miracle. 
The next portion of the agenda turned to the technological acrobatics of the latest internet, feats, with Rachele Hendricks-Sturrup of the Future of Privacy Forum recounting the development history of the now unveiled system of electronic COVID Infection notification, operating through a vast network of smart-phones, constructing a formidable data trove of proximity readings, with highly opaque encryption achieving near absolute anonymity. If Contact Tracing is the sovereign remedy in the preventive repertory, then electronic tracing is the best of the best.
She was followed by Dr. Isabelle de Zegher, chief of research in MY DATA laboratories at Tervuren, Belgium — where science contends with the key privacy mechanism of anonymity, and the technical puzzles are efficiently worked out under the banner of a many-sided, scientifically articulated well-being of the whole person. The underlying philosophic theme driving the research institute is to fashion the instruments of medical interventions and public health practice as integral to the morally and physically complete human person. We hope to keep readers up to date on proceedings at this very creative institute.  Their progress is a powerful counterpoint to the lines of our own domestic sources of research and reflection.
A closing segment of the Webinar dealt with problems of the school sector of American society. Giselle Lundy-Ponce, Manager for Social Justice Initiatives at the American Federation of Teachers, a frequent Dialogue Panelist, is expert on the very special set of challenges encountered in taking in hand pre-K children to fill the gap in the elementary speech, perception, and even dexterity skills that those of low income families may be missing at home. She sees the disruption of the present Pandemic as the occasion for a reconstruction of many aspects of the education enterprise. She implicitly sketches the School of the Future.
Juliana Cotto, policy counsel for education with the Future of Privacy Forum in Washington, holds forth with a focus on student privacy shields, which are getting stripped away, one by one, in the ever accelerating bustle of rigging the superstructure for a radically efficient technological world ahead, a novel cosmos. A nagging fear still troubles us: the present course would afford only little provision for a classic western ideal: the utility of an unobstructed route of intellectual and entrepreneurial creativity as the prime value target in a sound educational system.
Our Dialogue hopes it may direct a rekindled attention to the concerns that each of the day’s panelists persuasively articulates, all describing the tasks of fashioning an improved, still far from perfect, civic and social world — on a newly tilted axis, with the hope that our thought may turn with an equal energy, equally well-aimed, to the purposeful business that our panelists have placed before us. 
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Dialogue on Diversity: Founded in 1991, Dialogue on Diversity, a §501(c)3 non-profit, is an international network of women, and men, entrepreneurs and professionals, NGO executives and staff, a non-profit civil society organization bringing together Latino and other diverse cultural traditions, for exploring Internet Privacy, Women’s History, Health Care, Immigration, and other essential social and policy questions that are illuminated at the interface of the varied mind-sets and values and styles of our diverse audience of friends and members.
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