Mapping a Pandemic: Coronavirus Contact Tracing Apps - Navigating Between the Effective, Trustworthy and the Lawful

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This webinar will consider the data, privacy and public policy aspects of virus tracing apps.

Virus tracing apps are seen as an essential tool in supressing the spread of COVID-19, which has already killed more than 40,000 in the UK, and nearly 400,000 people worldwide.

Britain will soon be joining a growing number of countries around the world in deploying such tracing apps, which were either developed by governments on their own or by enlisting help from private companies, often by teaming up with readily-available tracing software that is compatible between phones.

Many use bluetooth technology that allows phones to "see" if a person comes into close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, assuming the infected person had entered the diagnostic into the app.

Health experts say at least 60 percent of a population needs to use the technology for it to be effective as countries lift their lockdowns, since vast numbers of people are still at risk of infection. But how intrusive should be the collection of personal data on which such apps depend? Where will this data be stored and for how long? Is the current privacy and data legislation in the UK adequate to guide and govern the operation of such apps? And is there enough public trust in these apps in Britain to achieve significant levels of downloads in order to deploy this technology to maximum effect?

These, and other related questions will be debated in our webinar by three eminent legal experts:

  • Marion Oswald, Vice Chancellor’s Senior Fellow in Law at the University of Northumbria and a RUSI Associate Fellow, an expert in the interaction between law and digital technology
  • Carly Kind, Director of the Ada Lovelace Institute, and an expert on technology policy and digital rights.
  • Dr Carole McCartney,Professor in the School of Law, Northumbria University


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