March 25, 2020 / 7:20 PM / 12 days ago

Technical help offered to fight virus must safeguard privacy, rights: WHO

FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured outside a building of the World Health Organization (WHO) during an executive board meeting on update on the coronavirus outbreak, in Geneva, Switzerland, February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

ZURICH (Reuters) - The World Health Organization is impressed by the offers of technology to help fight the coronavirus, but privacy and human rights must be protected, Michael Ryan, WHO’s top emergencies expert said on Wednesday.

The U.N. agency has received ideas from tech-start ups, huge global companies and people as young as 14, he said. This was the first pandemic where information technology, social media and artificial intelligence could be deployed, he added.

“There is a huge amount of innovation and enthusiasm,” Ryan told a press conference. “We need to turn that into products which work for front-line workers.”

It was crucial to observe that principles of data protection and human rights were observed, Ryan added.

Reporting by John Revill; editing by Stephanie Nebehay

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