Title

COVID-19 Apps Are Terrible—They Didn't Have to Be

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-21-2020

Publication Title

Lawfare

Keywords

coronavirus, COVID-19, surveillance, public health, technology

Abstract

Ray and Bambauer explain how state and federal governments, as well as private companies, "prioritiz[e]d a fetishized notion of individual privacy over collective public health," resulting in a series of decisions that made digital contact tracing extremely ineffective in the United States. They observe, "[t]he reluctance to leverage communications technologies to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus was so strong and so pervasive that the COVID-19 apps in operation today are underpowered and undersubscribed by design." They conclude with lessons to improve preparedness for a future public health crisis.

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