Covid-19 and Contact Tracing: A Study in Regulation by Technology


  • Justine Pila


A common theme of regulatory responses to Covid-19 has been the use of technology: in attempts to map the virus and its transmission, relax lockdowns and restart economies, and search for a vaccine to end the pandemic, technologies have held centre stage. Using the example of contact tracing, this Comment considers the significance of states’ reliance on technologies to achieve their regulatory objectives and some of the issues it raises. While most of the discussion around contact tracing systems has focused on privacy and data protection, their use also has wider implications for individuals and communities, particularly in the case of mobile apps. These concern legality, moral responsibility and community, autonomy, and democracy, which even expansive conceptions of privacy and data protection may not fully accommodate.