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Communications of the ACM

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Blueprint for the Perfect Coronavirus App


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A contact-tracing app.

Many countries are currently deploying digital tools to help contain the COVID-?19 pandemic.

Credit: Shutterstock

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) have outlined the ethical and legal challenges of developing and implementing digital tools for managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

The authors highlighted contact-tracing applications, programs for assessing an infection's presence based on symptoms, apps to check compliance of quarantine regulations, and flow models like those Google uses for mobility reports.

ETH Zurich's Effy Vayena said rigorous scientific validation must ensure digital tools work as intended, and confirm their efficacy and reliability.

Ethical issues include ensuring data collected by apps is not used for any other purpose without users' prior knowledge, and deploying tools for limited periods to deter their misuse for population surveillance.

Vayena said, "The basic principles—respecting autonomy and privacy, promoting healthcare and solidarity, and preventing new infections and malicious behavior—are the same everywhere."

From ETH Zurich (Switzerland)
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Abstracts Copyright © 2020 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


 

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