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Given the unprecedented scale of digital surveillance in the COVID-19 pandemic, designing and implementing digital technologies in ways that are equitable is critical now and in future epidemics and pandemics. Yet to date there has been very limited consideration about what is necessary to promote their equitable design and implementation. In this study, literature relating to the use of digital surveillance technologies during epidemics and pandemics was collected and thematically analyzed for ethical norms and concerns related to equity and social justice. Eleven norms are reported, including procedural fairness and inclusive approaches to design and implementation, designing to rectify or avoid exacerbating inequities, and fair access. Identified concerns relate to digital divides, stigma and discrimination, disparate risk of harm, and unfair design processes. We conclude by considering what dimensions of social justice the norms promote and whether identified concerns can be addressed by building the identified norms into technology design and implementation practice.

Original publication




Journal article


J Empir Res Hum Res Ethics

Publication Date



COVID-19, contact tracing, data sharing, digital technologies, equity, fairness, justice