Leading European Computing Society Calls for Transparency, Interoperability, Privacy, and Scrutiny in COVID Contact Tracing

Brussels, Belgium, May 7, 2020 — Today, the ACM Europe Technology Policy Committee (Europe TPC) of the world’s largest society of computing professionals, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), has released detailed principles and practices for the development and deployment of “contact tracing” technology intended to track and arrest the spread of COVID-19.

In an accompanying statement, the Committee calls on governments that choose to adopt such systems “to use only those which, by technical and legal design: respect and protect the rights of all individuals; safeguard personal data and privacy to the highest degree technically possible; and are subject to scrutiny by the scientific community and civil society before, during and after deployment.”

The Committee’s principles and practices address five critical areas of policy: technical architecture, development transparency, expert oversight, legal safeguards, and public engagement. Key recommendations include making all contact tracing applications:

  • entirely voluntary for members of the public to use (individual “opt-in”);
  • internationally interoperable;
  • open source and developed using a transparent process;
  • subject to oversight by multidisciplinary committees of experts;
  • strictly limited in their use and data collection by clear legal safeguards; and
  • available for formal comment by the public and civil society.

Expert Available for Interviews
Prof. Michel Beaudouin-Lafon, Europe TPC member, computer scientist, and a principal author of the Committee’s “Statement on Essential Principles and Practices for COVID-19 Contact Tracing Applications,” is available for comment on the document. To schedule an interview with Prof. Beaudouin-Lafon, or for further information, please contact Jim Ormond.

About ACM Europe TPC

The ACM Europe Technology Policy Committee (ACM Europe TPC) promotes dialogue and the exchange of ideas on technology and computing policy issues with the European Commission and other governmental bodies in Europe, and the informatics and computing communities. The Europe TPC engages promotes sound public policy and public understanding of a broad range of issues at the intersection of technology and policy. Its policy statements reflect the expertise of ACM Europe Council professional members from the public and private sectors experienced in informatics, computer science, and other computing-related subjects.

About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world's largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting educators, researchers, and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources, and address the field's challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession's collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.