August 2022

Ethical concerns of contact tracing apps

The apps mentioned above stormed into to our lives with the development of BLE (Bluetooth low energy) in 2009. Ever since the technology was integrated into mobile phones and independent gadgets, there have been numerous apps in the domain of dating, item tracing and games. The technology is not new, however, the concerns of the applications are recently increasing. In modern operating systems, BLE is an optional feature that needs users’ consent to actively work. In theory, users who do not enable the Bluetooth feature cannot be traced or found through contact tracing apps. Bluetooth feature is not the main tool to trace people. GPS is technically better option if some applications want to trance certain people and still GPS is not seen as a potentially immoral or unethical technology. In my opinion, people are scared of BLE and contact tracing apps because it is a relatively new phenomenon and like every new technology, it has come with the concerns and fears. However, the feeling of someone following and tracing our every step is uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. If these applications are forced to use by the governments or they are activated by the operating systems without users’ consent, it becomes an ethical problem and harsh invasion of privacy. This ethical dilemma is not limited to contact tracing apps, but also all social media apps and operating systems. Some users of digital tools are willing to be traced and followed by people and other users. This was the whole idea of social media. To be found and connected. In addition to social media platforms which allow people to be connected and found, some dating apps serve the same purpose of being connected with the people in close proximity. This, as well, works by user consent by design and they exist with leverage of supply and demand pair. I would like to look at the topic from the users’ perspective. If one is using a product ( e.g. a digital tool), he/she should understand how the product actually works and the purpose of it. For example, Instagram is a photo and video sharing social networking service and you use this product if you want to do networking through sharing photos or videos. If the core idea of this product creates ethical or security concerns, simply do not use it. This mechanism creates a natural selection in the digital evolution and leads to a better, safer and more ethical product development.

Digital accessibility

Digital accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and implemented in a way that people with disabilities can use them as well. Digital accessibility aims that people with disabilities also perceive, navigate, and interact with the tools in the digital world. 

Web developers, for example, could add alt text descriptions to images to define images textually, thus visually impaired people can hear what the image looks like through voice over utilities. 

Web accessibility is a broad term and not restricted to only the visually impaired segment of the society. The Web usually offers people four fundamental operations. These can be abbreviated as CRUD operations (Create, Read, Update, Delete). Developers should aim for people with cognitive, neurological, physical disabilities to be able to perform CRUD operations. For example, a person cannot use his/her hand permanently or temporarily, however, he/she wants to use the mobile phone. It is definitely going to be difficult but with the help of artificial intelligence he/she can perform the operations through voice commands. Siri is a good example for this purpose. 

In addition to the people who have disabilities, people with low income or language barrier should access the content written in English language through auto translation options. On the other hand, people who do not own or have access to the state-of-art computers or internet connection should be able to access the Web content with the least effort. 

Digital accessibility is relatively new in the modern world, however, companies and organizations have begun to take it into consideration during the process of product and service development. Consumers should demand products and services in addition to the regulations of governments therefore, accessibility features can be adapted rapidly in the future.