Ethical Guidelines for SARS-CoV-2 Digital Tracking and Tracing Systems
The World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on 11th March 2020, recognising that the underlying SARS-CoV-2 has caused the greatest global crisis since World War II. In this article, we present a framework to evaluate whether and to what extent the use of digital systems that track and/or trace potentially infected individuals is not only legal but also ethical. Digital tracking and tracing (DTT) systems may severely limit fundamental rights and freedoms, but they ought not to be deployed in a vacuum of guidance, to ensure that they are ethically justifiable, i.e. coherent with society’s expectations and values. Interventions must be necessary to achieve a specific public health objective, proportional to the seriousness of the public health threat, scientifically sound to support their effectiveness, and time-bounded (1,2). However, this is insufficient. This is why in this article we present a more inclusive framework also comprising twelve enabling factors to guide the design and development of ethical DTT systems.