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< Back to question How do we think about the UK lockdown debate? Show more Show less

The coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented isolation measures throughout the world. One effect has been the creation of ideological blocs across traditional party lines, lobbying for different approaches to containing the virus. UK lockdown came into effect on March 23, shutting down non-essential business and movement outside the home, bar a single daily outing for exercise. Critics variously describe this decision as too late, too little, too much and overblown. So, who are these groups, what do they stand for, and why?

Test, trace, isolate, protect Show more Show less

The strategy of building capacity to test, trace, isolate and then protect an increasing part of the population has worked in other countries.
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Contact tracing apps can potentially help individuals monitor their risk of exposure and transmission

Many large technology companies are developing apps that can track COVID-19 infections. They can warn individuals when they have been exposed to the disease and they can even mention places to avoid. Such a technological solution could potentially help defeat the virus.
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The Argument

Apple, Google, and many prominent startup technology companies have started developing technological solutions to defeat COVID-19. [1] One of their most promising approaches is to develop contact-tracing apps. Over 25 distinct contact tracing apps have already been implemented all across the world. These apps are developed by prominent companies and backed by the central government of their respective country. The goal is to encourage a large portion of the public to download the app. Then, if they come in contact or are potentially at risk of being infected, an automated exposure notification is sent to the user and public health workers. This is extremely beneficial because it helps individuals and governments track exposure levels, risk levels, and make better decisions. If someone knows that a certain area is more COVID-19 prone or that they have been exposed to the disease, they are much more likely to self-quarantine. Also, these apps will greatly help public health workers trace COVID-19 infections, and it lowers their risk of exposure to the disease. They would no longer have to visit people, towns, or other places in-person to keep track of the disease's movements. Their jobs will be greatly supplemented by this app and it helps protect them as well. In a changing society that is increasingly reliant on technology, it is reasonable to find a tech-centered solution for this pandemic.

Counter arguments

There are numerous safety and data privacy issues with contact-tracing apps. For example, Iran developed an app called AC19 which was swiftly banned by Google. This is because they were planning on collecting much more data regarding individuals than Google's laws and mandates allowed.[2] Also, in China, systems were introduced that could easily collect an individual's payment history, identity, and location once the app was installed. Local police could even be notified of these individuals and action could be taken against them. These are just some of the privacy risks involved with such an app. In order to truly trace the spread of the virus, governments would have to tap into personal history and data. To add to this, these apps have not been proven to make a dent in countries that are already using them. Is it worthwhile or even reasonable to pay such a high price for an idea that may or may not work?

Premises

Rejecting the premises

Proponents


References

  1. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/03/why-coronavirus-contact-tracing-apps-havent-been-a-game-changer.html
  2. https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/05/07/1000961/launching-mittr-covid-tracing-tracker/source.html

This page was last edited on Thursday, 30 Jul 2020 at 19:19 UTC

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