COVID-19 and Contact Tracing Apps: Technological Fix or Social Experiment?

8 Pages Posted: 4 May 2020 Last revised: 12 May 2020

See all articles by Federica Lucivero

Federica Lucivero

University of Oxford

Nina Hallowell

University of Oxford

Stephanie Johnson

University of Oxford

Barbara Prainsack

University of Vienna - Department of Political Sciences

Gabrielle Samuel

King's College London

Tamar Sharon

Radboud University

Date Written: April 10, 2020

Abstract

Mobile applications are increasingly regarded as important tools for an integrated strategy of post-lockdown policy response around the globe. This paper explores how the use of smartphone applications for digital contact tracing is currently being framed by media, experts and policy-makers and discusses a number of questions raised by the debate on digital surveillance at the time of Covid-19: How can personal data be adequately collected and protected? Who should access data? What is a legitimate role for Big Tech companies in the development and implementation of these systems? How is the cultural and moral context taken into account in the design of these apps? Should use of these apps be compulsory? What does transparency and ethical oversight mean in this context? As we show that responses to these questions are complex and uncertain, we argue that rather than technological fixes to the current emergency these apps should be introduced in society as societal experimental trials whose effectiveness and consequences need to be closely and independently monitored the same level of precaution and safeguards that social experimentation require.

Keywords: digital contact tracing, ethics, tracking apps, COVID-19

Suggested Citation

Lucivero, Federica and Hallowell, Nina and Johnson, Stephanie and Prainsack, Barbara and Samuel, Gabrielle and Sharon, Tamar, COVID-19 and Contact Tracing Apps: Technological Fix or Social Experiment? (April 10, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3590788 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3590788

Federica Lucivero (Contact Author)

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Nina Hallowell

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Stephanie Johnson

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Barbara Prainsack

University of Vienna - Department of Political Sciences ( email )

Bruenner Strasse 72
Vienna 1210, Vienna
Austria

Gabrielle Samuel

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Tamar Sharon

Radboud University ( email )

Nijmegen
Netherlands

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
313
Abstract Views
1,189
rank
106,897
PlumX Metrics