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COVID-19 and Contact Tracing Apps - What Should Ireland Do?


Thursday, June 25, 2020, 18:00 - 19:30




Free online event: booking essential

The DRI is hosting a webinar on Ireland's technical response to COVID-19 in collaboration with the ICCL and Coffee & Circumvention.

Contact tracing is a key measure used in stopping the spread of COVID-19 outbreaks. At the moment, this important work is done by teams of people that ask each infected person on an individual basis how many people they have met in recent times. With contact tracing, people can be quickly informed that they may be infected and encouraged to self-isolate so the infection isn't spread further. Contact tracing applications can be downloaded onto mobile phones. . When someone with this app on their phone comes in contact with another person with a similar app, this information is stored and can be shared with health authorities if one of the phone owners becomes infected. Potentially, this could make the job of contact tracing faster and more accurate as it doesn't rely on a person’s ability to remember and know everyone with whom they have been in contact.  For this reason, international governments and technology companies have been developing contact tracing apps. The Irish government has indicated that their application should be available in the coming weeks.

However, there has been significant controversy and debate about the way in which these apps are being developed. There are many different ways that they can be built and used. There are fears that governments may use the apps to increase state surveillance or that the benefits of the apps do not outweigh the costs to our rights to privacy. Norway has shut down its contact tracing app following privacy concerns, the NHS app has been delayed due to security flaws, while the Russian app has been used to impose fines on those it thinks are breaking quarantine.

Our panel of experts will discuss how these issues are being considered both in Ireland and internationally.

About the speakers:

Elizabeth Farries is the Information Rights Project Manager at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. She has joined experts to publish open transparency calls and 9 principles regarding Ireland's proposed COVID-19 app. Elizabeth publishes, advises and advocates at the intersection of technology and human rights.

Arthit Suriyawongkul is a co-founder of Thai Netizen Network and a PhD student at School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College Dublin. His research is on artificial intelligence ethics, privacy, and related regulatory technology. He is based at ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology and funded by SFI Centre for Research Training in Digitally Enhanced Reality (D-REAL).

Carly Kind is the Director of the Ada Lovelace Institute, an independent research and deliberative body whose mission is to ensure that data and AI work for people and society. She is a human rights lawyer and privacy and data protection expert. Her work focuses on the opportunities and challenges that arise at the intersection of human rights and technology.

Rob Kitchin is a Professor in the Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute, Ireland. He has conducted extensive research on digital technologies and their impact on society. He is (co)author or (co)editor of 30 academic books and a couple of hundred articles and book chapters. He is a recipient of the Royal Irish Academy’s Gold Medal for the Social Sciences. His most recent article is ‘Civil liberties or public health, or civil liberties and public health? Using surveillance technologies to tackle the spread of COVID-19’, published in Space and Polity.

The event will be chaired by DRI Policy Manager, Dr Aileen O'Carroll.

The webinar will be hosted on Zoom but it is not necessary to have a Zoom account to access the event. Simply register for free at Eventbrite and you will be sent details on how to join.

Our DRI partner institute, Maynooth University, will also be live streaming the webinar to Facebook 

A recording of the webinar will be made available on the DRI website after the event.

[Photo by John Pettrich on Unsplash]

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