Digital tools against COVID-19: Framing the ethical challenges and how to address them

by   Urs Gasser, et al.

Data collection and processing via digital public health technologies are being promoted worldwide by governments and private companies as strategic remedies for mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic and loosening lockdown measures. However, the ethical and legal boundaries of deploying digital tools for disease surveillance and control purposes are unclear, and a rapidly evolving debate has emerged globally around the promises and risks of mobilizing digital tools for public health. To help scientists and policymakers navigate technological and ethical uncertainty, we present a typology of the primary digital public health applications currently in use. Namely: proximity and contact tracing, symptom monitoring, quarantine control, and flow modeling. For each, we discuss context-specific risks, cross-sectional issues, and ethical concerns. Finally, in recognition of the need for practical guidance, we propose a navigation aid for policymakers made up of ten steps for the ethical use of digital public health tools.



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