Brazil to launch robocalls for Covid-19 patient triage

robocalls health covid-19

The Brazilian Health Ministry will robocall 125 million people as part of a system using artificial intelligence to monitor Covid-19 symptoms and identify potential epicenters of the outbreak. While it is hard to dispute the nobility of the cause — such screenings could help alleviate the burden on hospitals — it raises some concerns about how people’s personal data will be protected. “Don’t be alarmed if you start receiving robocalls. It is a kind of [interactive voice response] that will ask you questions (…) The AI system will carry out triage and follow up in the future,” Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta told reporters.

According to the minister, the system will ask questions on whether people have Covid-19 symptoms, if they are in high-risk groups, how many people they live with, their location, and names — all of which are considered sensitive private data. The Health Ministry did not respond to a request for comment made by The Brazilian Report on how authorities intend to protect the data or how they will educate the population to avoid schemes and frauds. Fraudsters have used the Covid-19 outbreak to prey on unaware users and obtain sensitive data.

The government itself recently gave a textbook example of how little regard Brazilians give for data security. On Tuesday, General Augusto Heleno, who oversees the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, published results from his negative Covid-19 test without censoring his social security and personal ID numbers.