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Trustworthy Digital Contact Tracing
This Article takes a closer look at digital contact tracing in the United States during the coronavirus pandemic and why it failed. It begins by explaining the shortcomings of traditional analog methods and the resulting need for digital contact tracing. It then turns to the norms regarding consent, the scope of the data collected, and the limits on subsequent use necessary for cooperative surveillance. We argue that any successful digital contact-tracing program must incorporate these elements. Yet while necessary, those strategies alone may not be sufficient. People justifiably lack trust in public health authorities, in new technologies, and in the tech industry itself. Consequently, we conclude that public health authorities must do more than simply seek consent, minimize collection, and prohibit subsequent use. They must take proactive steps to establish public confidence in digital contact tracing.
Emily Berman, Associate Professor & Royce R. Till Professor, University of Houston Law Center
Leah R. Fowler, Research Assistant Professor and Research Director of the Health Law & Policy Institute, University of Houston Law Center
Jessica L. Roberts, Professor of Law, Leonard H. Childs Chair in Law, Professor of Law, and Director of the Health Law & Policy Institute, University of Houston Law Center