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THE DANGERS OF DIGITAL CONTACT TRACING

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Africa, where people had already been dying of the disease for decades by that point. It is clear from the Country Dispatches in this volume that contact tracing for COVID-19 requires the trust and participation of the community, large-scale testing, and robust qualitative data to help investigators understand exactly how a virus is spread between contacts, and the risk factors that make some more susceptible than others. This is made more difficult by digital contact-tracing apps with compulsory location tracking like those used in China. Even apps that use Bluetooth instead of GPS, which are designed to be less intrusive with data collection, do not provide reliable and sufficient quantitative data regarding proximity and signal strength.11 Without gaining the trust of patients and without practicing consensual data sharing, we will potentially face the heavy consequences of relying too much on technology to save us—and therefore missing out on the qualitative data gathering by social researchers that has traditionally formed part of the early response in managing a novel virus pandemic. At a time when there is very little trust in leadership and the administration—as seen in the US currently—people seem to be concerned about how their data will be handled, and are questioning why Apple and Google are providing the contact-tracing service instead of the government. As a result, there have been no successful deployments of contact-tracing apps in the US so far. South Dakota has seen the most success—though only two percent of residents volunteered to share their data. This speaks volumes about how little trust there is in local and federal institutions; and it is quite unlikely that they will regain the trust of the public by outsourcing public health matters to the private sector, even if they are better equipped to provide the service.

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Data Justice and COVID-19: Global Perspectives  

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how social, economic, and political power is created, exerted, and extended through technology. Through c...

Data Justice and COVID-19: Global Perspectives  

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how social, economic, and political power is created, exerted, and extended through technology. Through c...

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