In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technology was touted as a potential savior. In particular, there was a burst of enthusiasm around so-called digital contact tracing apps, which would track people's movements and interactions and notify them if they had been exposed to COVID. Apple and Google, which together control the operating systems for virtually the entire smartphone market, joined forces and created a standard to help researchers, private entities and governments create contact tracing apps. But despite the early hype, enthusiasm about these apps quickly fizzled, and even today, they remain underdeveloped and rarely used. As part of Lawfare's ongoing Digital Social Contract research paper series, law professors Jane Bambauer from the University of Arizona and Brian Ray from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, published a paper titled, "COVID-19 Apps Are Terrible—They Didn't Have to Be." Alan Rozenshtein sat down with Jane and Brian to talk about why contact tracing never played more than a marginal role in managing the pandemic.
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