We all freak out at stories of how our every move is being tracked by apps such as Google.
But is it possible there is now a coldly effective use for that tracking data to help contain the coronavirus here?
I write about tracking quite a bit. It is always quite something to see every second of your day tracked at myactivity.google.com (literally on a map). Usually it's a chilling reminder of our new surveilled society.
But it must now be tempting for authorities to want to leverage that crucial information in what could develop into an emergency public health situation.
Imagine being able to see, on a map, exactly where an infected person has been for the last day, week or month?
It may not be a case of compelling someone to hand over the data (which would probably be illegal anyway - we don't live in China).
An infected individual might voluntarily hand over a temporary password to their Google account. The investigator could then, within a few minutes, get an astonishingly full and accurate picture (on a map, with timestamps) of the person's recent movements.
The infected person is entirely within their rights not to be comfortable with this process, or to object. But it's hard to fathom that authorities trying to contain the virus's spread wouldn't at least ask.
As it always is, treading a path between privacy and security could get very, very tricky if the coronavirus outbreak deepens.
One of the most controversial - even disturbing - entities to emerge in the last year is the US facial recognition company Clearview.
Against the rules of all social media companies, Clearview 'scraped' (copied) and stored three billion faces from any online source it could find. It then applied algorithms to match those faces. The result is a slightly terrifying database where you can probably be identified by uploading almost any new cameraphone snap or high-resolution video camera or CCTV image.
But in the US, police forces love it. Many claim they have used it to solve cases of assault or worse.
Here, it wouldn't be countenanced for solid privacy reasons.
And yet, and yet.
Suppose buying that Clearview database was the difference between slowing the spread of the virus and not? Would we still say it's not worth the clear infringement on privacy?
We may not be at that point yet. But if it came to it, would we be as steadfast as we - rightfully - are now in prioritising privacy rights over the spread of a pandemic?
Last week, I wrote about a related, though much milder, tension between privacy and security: whether dashcams and bike-mounted GoPros now constituted a clear risk to our privacy, because of their high resolution quality and the more frequent incidence of people posting footage online - to point out bad behaviour, usually.
Predictably and understandably, those who normally prioritise privacy take a much more nuanced view if they believe bike-mounted GoPro footage published to show the dangers cyclists face every day might be threatened.
This is surely the same tension some householders feel when they are criticised for deploying high-powered CCTV cameras. Whether everyone would admit it or not, it is universal and can be roughly summarised thus: When it comes to my security and safety, this particular technology that may stretch the data privacy rights of others should be allowable.
Will such an equation rear its head with the coronavirus?
Last week, Dublin underwent fresh trauma unrelated to the coronavirus.
A tech company, HubSpot, announced 450 new jobs.
Within minutes, the public anguish was loud.
"Where will they live?"
"Oh great, more people on the Luas."
"Once again, the rest of the country settles for crumbs while Dublin is handed the jobs."
This column has written at length about the first two complaints. That Dublin refuses to deal with any kind of proportionate planning development - housing, transport - to match its unusually strong industrial economic investment is baffling.
But the third complaint, that Dublin is being repeatedly favoured, is worth looking at afresh. In short, it's nonsense.
There is a view out there that the powers-that-be steer big tech companies into Dublin whenever there's a big jobs project going.
This, the argument goes, is completely unfair and wrong-headed. Why is it that such jobs are always being 'put' into Dublin when they could do so much to transform Mullingar or Waterford or Castlebar or Tullamore or Carrick-on-Shannon?
Moreover, don't these companies know what they're missing out on by not choosing the regional locations? There'd be no traffic! Housing would be less than half the price! There'd be an amazing work-life balance! Staff retention would be amazing!
Alas, the reality is very different. The real reason these giant tech firms still covet a central Dublin location, even with the sky-high rents, chronic congestion and other urban disadvantages, is that it is where they can maximise recruitment. There is literally no more to it than that. Highly sought-after young workers like being in or around cities. It's not just because of the choice of jobs. It's the ability to go out at night, attend events, meet other young people.
As for the government 'putting' these jobs in Dublin, almost every minister or IDA executive I've ever spoken to would give their right arm to have more of the job announcements outside Dublin.
So we should ditch the conspiracy theories about a 'Dublin first' agenda.
Sunday Indo Business