Title: Politics, infrastructures and design choices in the DP-3T contact tracing protocol
Authors: Michael Veale - University College London (United Kingdom) [presenting]
Abstract: During the COVID-19 pandemic, policy-makers looked eagerly at mobile apps to avoid lockdown or re-open society. As a scientific intervention, we formed an international consortium to create an open protocol and codebase called Decentralised Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (DP-3T). It enables smartphone owners to be notified of a significant contact event with a later diagnosed individual without requiring a centralised database or persistent identifiers. We will describe our design choices and motivations, including privacy and purpose limitation by design and graceful degradation. We will reflect upon the role of the large technology platforms, particularly Apple and Google, in arbitrating between choices and designs. Their choices ultimately led to the adoption of the DP-3T standard around the world, and as scholars, we must closely reflect on their power to create specific computational and statistical infrastructures. We will also discuss desires to create population-scale statistics in a privacy-preserving manner. We will argue a narrow focus on privacy in these contexts, potentially able to deliver serious societal harm.