FPF and Leading Health & Equity Organizations Issue Principles for Privacy & Equity in Digital Contact Tracing Technologies
With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, FPF engaged leaders within the privacy and equity communities to develop actionable guiding principles and a framework to help bolster the responsible implementation of digital contact tracing technologies (DCTT). Today, seven privacy, civil rights, and health equity organizations signed on to these guiding principles for organizations implementing DCTT.
“We learned early in our Privacy and Pandemics initiative that unresolved ethical, legal, social, and equity issues may challenge the responsible implementation of digital contact tracing technologies,” said Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum. “So we engaged leaders within the civil rights, health equity, and privacy communities to create a set of actionable principles to help guide organizations implementing digital contact tracing that respects individual rights.”
Contact tracing has long been used to monitor the spread of various infectious diseases. In light of COVID-19, governments and companies began deploying digital exposure notification using Bluetooth and geolocation data on mobile devices to boost contact tracing efforts and quickly identify individuals who may have been exposed to the virus. However, as DCTT begins to play an important role in public health, it is important to take necessary steps to ensure equity in access to DCTT and understand the societal risks and tradeoffs that might accompany its implementation today and in the future. Governance efforts that seek to better understand these risks will be better able to bolster public trust in DCTT technologies.
“If we establish practices that protect individual privacy and equity, digital contact tracing technologies could play a pivotal role in tracking infectious diseases,” said Dr. Rachele Hendricks-Sturrup, Research Director at the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy. “These principles allow organizations implementing digital contact tracing to take ethical and responsible approaches to how their technology collects, tracks, and shares personal information.”
FPF, together with Dialogue on Diversity, the National Alliance Against Disparities in Patient Health (NADPH), BrightHive, and LGBT Tech, developed the principles, which advise organizations implementing DCTT to commit to the following actions:
- Be Transparent About How Data Is Used and Shared.
- Apply Strong De-Identification Techniques and Solutions.
- Empower Users Through Tiered Opt-in/Opt-out Features and Data Minimization.
- Acknowledge and Address Privacy, Security, and Nondiscrimination Protection Gaps.
- Create Equitable Access to DCTT.
- Acknowledge and Address Implicit Bias Within and Across Public and Private Settings.
- Democratize Data for Public Good While Employing Appropriate Privacy Safeguards.
- Adopt Privacy-By-Design Standards That Make DCTT Broadly Accessible.
Additional supporters of these principles include the Center for Democracy and Technology and Human Rights First.
To learn more and sign on to the DCTT Principles visit fpf.org/DCTT.
Support for this program was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.