Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published online by De Gruyter June 21, 2022

Contact Tracing in the COVID-19 Pandemic: How Digital Contact Tracing Affects Our Individual Rights

Ryan Sherer


Amid public health crises, contact tracing becomes an imperative mechanism in combatting the threat at hand. In today’s day and age, technology has exploded, leaving the legal world to determine technologies’ effect on the law. As the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc upon the world, how is contact tracing affected by the advent of modern technology, and how does the use of technology such as geolocation, artificial intelligence (AI), and facial recognition technology (FRT) comport with the rights to privacy, association, free exercise of religion, and equal protection? This paper will examine the current constitutional precedents to provide insight as to how the use of digital contact tracing would influence the rights of everyday citizens. Constitutional implications of digital contact tracing using geolocation, AI, and FRT are considered against the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments (more specifically, against freedom of religion, freedom of association, the right to privacy, and the right to equal protection). Given the novel aspects of geolocation, AI, and FRT, digital contact tracing could result in potential constitutional violations under certain circumstances. This research shows that while digital contact tracing using novel technology could be done in a legal way, there are just as many concerns to be had about potential constitutional abuses that could affect each and everyone’s lives.

Corresponding author: Ryan Sherer, Texas Tech University School of Law, 3311 18th Street, Lubbock, 79409, TX, USA, E-mail:

Published Online: 2022-06-21

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston