Published: June 2020

Protection of democracy and privacy are critical as tech responds to pandemic

Over 80 civil rights, civil liberties, labor, and consumer protection organizations released principles to guide employers, policymakers, businesses, and public health authorities as they consider strategies to reopen American society and deploy information technologies designed specifically to monitor, track, or trace individuals in order to mitigate or respond to the COVID-19 public health crisis. The groups note the need to protect the civil rights and privacy of all persons, especially communities of color and other populations who are at high risk for the virus, when considering the deployment of technological measures.

In this time of global emergency, it is heartening to see so many people coming forward to share ideas and resources to help those in need and prevent further suffering. But we must also be mindful of the risks of overreach and unintended consequences, especially to marginalized communities already suffering disproportionately from the virus and economic hardships. Use of such technology must only be allowed if it is nondiscriminatory, effective, voluntary, secure, accountable, and used exclusively for public health purposes.

No COVID-19 response technology has been proven trustworthy and effective for combating the pandemic in the United States. The principles state that use of such technology must only be allowed if it is:

  • Nondiscriminatory
  • Used Exclusively for Public Health Purposes
  • Effective
  • Voluntary
  • Secure
  • Accountable

Lead Organization

The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights

Other Organizations

Alianza Nacional de Campesinas | American Atheists | American Federation of Teachers | American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) | Americans for Financial Reform | Amnesty International – USA | Arab American Institute | Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum | Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC | Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) | Augustus F. Hawkins Foundation | Autistic Self Advocacy Network | Campesinos Sin Fronteras | Center for American Progress | Center for Democracy and Technology | Center for Digital Democracy | Center for Science and Democracy, Union of Concerned Scientists | Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law | Common Cause | Constitutional Alliance | Consumer Action | Consumer Federation of America | Customer Commons | Democracy 21 | Economic Policy Institute | Electronic Frontier Foundation | Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) | ELEVATE AAPI @ Irvine Valley College | Equal Rights Advocates | Equality California | Farmworker Association of Florida | Filipina Women’s Network | Free Press Action | Freedom House | Government Accountability Project | Government Information Watch | Human Rights Campaign Impact Fund | Japanese American Citizens League | Justice for Migrant Women | Justice in Aging | Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law | League of Women Voters of the United States | Matthew Shepard Foundation | Media Alliance | MediaJustice | Multicultural Efforts to end Sexual Assault (MESA) | Muslim Advocates | NAACP | National Action Network | National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) | National Black Justice Coalition | National Center for Lesbian Rights | National Consumer Law Center, on behalf of its low-income clients | National Council of Jewish Women | National Education Association | National Employment Law Project | National Employment Lawyers Association | National Health Law Program | National Hispanic Media Coalition | National Indian Education Association | National Network to End Domestic Violence | National Partnership for Women & Families | National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) | National Urban League | New America’s Open Technology Institute

More Information

Click here to read the letter in full.

For more information, please visit The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights.


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