COMPASS – Coordination on Mobile Pandemic Apps Best Practice and Solution Sharing

Subproject "Ethical-social requirements"

Funding: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

Duration: 2020-2021

Carried out by: Lorina Buhr, M.A.


The aim of the COMPASS project (Coordination on mobile pandemic apps best practice and solution sharing) is to establish a platform for the sustainable coordination of pandemic apps and to provide concrete methods and tools for their implementation according to the current state of science, technology and legislation.

The nationwide approach of partners from science and industry is intended to contribute to sustainably anchor the development and use of digital solutions in pandemic management through coordinated construction, processing and evaluation of pandemic apps as well as the creation of recommendations for design.

Subproject "Ethical-social requirements"


The question of the ethical legitimacy of pandemic-related apps is currently being raised primarily with a focus on contact-tracing apps, since privacy concerns and the possibilities for abuse are evident here. A central aspect of contact tracing apps is that only a large distribution of the app can make an effective contribution to pandemic management, so that the ethical evaluation of the app depends on the actual degree of distribution. This leads to the balancing of two goods - privacy and collective health protection. In the case of the Corona warning app issued by the German government, for example, privacy protection had to be taken into account to such an extent that this could not be solved by simply referring to corresponding data protection clauses and terms of use.

However, there are also apps and digital applications that are not developed for contact tracing but for other purposes in the context of infectious disease management, e.g. to support infectious disease research. So far, however, there are only a few empirical studies that have surveyed the population’s attitude towards, and acceptance of, such research-focused, and often data-intensive digital applications. By conducting a representative survey, the general population’s attitudes towards, and acceptance of, various digital solutions with regard to the management and research of pandemic and epidemic infectious diseases will be explored. The survey will feed into the development of ethically and socially reflective recommendations for the development and design of mobile apps. Additionally, a scoping review on existing ethical guidelines and governance frameworks is conducted.

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Prof. Dr. Silke Schicktanz

Prof. Dr. Silke Schicktanz

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