Ethical Challenges of Digital Technologies in Covid-19 Pandemic Management


  • Simina Petra Simion Institute of Legal Medicine Târgu Mureș, Romania
  • Harald Jung Institute of Legal Medicine Târgu Mureș, Romania



The infectious disease caused by SARS-COV-2 virus has spread rapidly worldwide, just 48 days after the first case appeared in China (January 30, 2020), becoming a major public health problem. 1/3 of the world’s population has been forced into quarantine, the pandemic causing massive restrictions and consecutively substantial social, psychological and economic harms.

Researchers and experts have highlighted the benefits of various digital resources use, with the aim of collection, analysis, and correlation of individual data as a strategy in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Digital surveillance is accompanied by legal and ethical risks and concerns, thus civil rights organizations and data protection authorities are highlighting the risk of intensified digital surveillance even after the pandemic situation. They emphasize the need to meet basic conditions (legality, proportionality of data processing) but also the need for social justice and equity that must not be overlooked in the urgency of this crisis.

The digital sources used in response to this pandemic include data from telephone towers, various mobile phone applications, Bluetooth connections, video surveillance, and more. We identified four main categories of digital technologies used to manage the pandemic: proximity and contact tracking, symptom monitoring, quarantine control, and individuals flow monitoring.

Although digital technology seems to demonstrate its importance in flattening the incidence curve of Sars-Cov-2 virus infection, notable technical limitations have also been emphasized, such as accuracy, data quality, and last but not least the existence of risks related to cybersecurity.