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Title: TraceTogether : pandemic response, democracy, and technology
Authors: Stevens, Hallam
Haines, Monamie Bhadra
Keywords: Science
Issue Date: 2020
Source: Stevens, H., & Haines, M. B. (2020). TraceTogether : pandemic response, democracy, and technology. East Asian Science, Technology and Society, 14(3), 523-532. doi:10.1215/18752160-8698301
Project: 2017-T1-002-097
Journal: East Asian Science, Technology and Society
Abstract: On 20 March 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Singapore government released a new app called “TraceTogether.” Developed by the Ministry of Health, SG United, and GovTech Singapore, the app uses the Bluetooth capability of smartphones to store information about which other smartphones have come into close proximity with your own. These data facilitate the government’s process of “contact tracing” through which they track those who have potentially come into contact with the virus and place them in quarantine. This essay attempts to understand what kinds of citizens and civic behaviour may be brought into being by this technology. By examining the workings and affordances of the TraceTogether app in detail, we argue that its peer-to-peer and open source technology features mobilize the rhetorics and ideals of citizens science and democratic participation. However, by deploying these within a context that centralizes data, the app turns ideals borne of dissent and protest on their head, using them to build trust not within a community but rather in government power and control. Rather than building social trust, TraceTogether becomes a technological substitute for it. The significant public support for TraceTogether shows both the possibilities and limitations of citizen science in less liberal political contexts and circumstances.
ISSN: 1875-2152
DOI: 10.1215/18752160-8698301
Rights: © 2020 Duke University Press. All rights reserved. This paper was published in East Asian Science, Technology and Society and is made available with permission of Duke University Press.
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
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