Ethical Guidelines for SARS-CoV-2 Digital Tracking and Tracing Systems

6 Pages Posted: 1 May 2020 Last revised: 26 May 2020

See all articles by Jessica Morley

Jessica Morley

Oxford Internet Institute

Josh Cowls

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Mariarosaria Taddeo

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Luciano Floridi

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: April 22, 2020

Abstract

The World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on 11th March 2020, recognising that the underlying SARS-CoV-2 has caused the greatest global crisis since World War II. In this article, we present a framework to evaluate whether and to what extent the use of digital systems that track and/or trace potentially infected individuals is not only legal but also ethical. Digital tracking and tracing (DTT) systems may severely limit fundamental rights and freedoms, but they ought not to be deployed in a vacuum of guidance, to ensure that they are ethically justifiable, i.e. coherent with society’s expectations and values. Interventions must be necessary to achieve a specific public health objective, proportional to the seriousness of the public health threat, scientifically sound to support their effectiveness, and time-bounded (1,2). However, this is insufficient. This is why in this article we present a more inclusive framework also comprising twelve enabling factors to guide the design and development of ethical DTT systems.

Note: Funding: No specific funding was used for this paper.

Conflict of Interest: We declare no competing interests.

Keywords: digital ethics; human rights; health policy; data policy; COVID

Suggested Citation

Morley, Jessica and Cowls, Josh and Taddeo, Mariarosaria and Floridi, Luciano, Ethical Guidelines for SARS-CoV-2 Digital Tracking and Tracing Systems (April 22, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3582550 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3582550

Jessica Morley (Contact Author)

Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Josh Cowls

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Mariarosaria Taddeo

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Luciano Floridi

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

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