Illustrative image for Re Opening the Nation Privacy Surveillance and Digital Tools for Contact Tracing

Re-Opening the Nation: Privacy, Surveillance, and Digital Tools for Contact Tracing

A Hastings Conversation with

Ed Felten, Ryan Calo, and Mildred Solomon

The Hastings Center hosted “Re-Opening the Nation: Privacy, Surveillance, and Digital Tools for Contact Tracing,”  on Monday, May 18. Testing and contact tracing are the keys to re-opening the nation safely. If done to scale, we can relax broad sheltering at home orders once the disease prevalence has diminished, and switch to using only targeted quarantine for the far smaller number of people actually exposed to known cases. Traditionally, contact tracing has been done person-to-person, but given the prevalence of Covid-19 and the size of the U.S. population, there is growing interest in the development of digital apps to supplement human-to-human contact tracing or warn people if they are exposed. 

This Hastings Conversation featured:

  • Ed Felten, Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs at Princeton University and former Deputy United States Chief Technology Officer
  • Ryan Calo, Co-Director, Tech Policy Lab, Lane Powell and D. Wayne Gittinger Associate Professor, School of Law at the University of Washington
  • Mildred Z. Solomon, President of The Hastings Center. 

A full transcript of the discussion is also available.

This is the second in a series of events on re-opening the nation. The first asked What Values Should Guide Us?  Zeke Emanuel, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, and Danielle Allen, Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics joined Mildred Solomon for that discussion. A recording and transcript of the webinar is available.

The Hastings Center addresses social and ethical issues in health care, science, and technology. It is the oldest independent, nonpartisan, interdisciplinary research institute of its kind in the world.

Edward W. Felten is the Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs and the founding director of Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy. He was previously Deputy United States Chief Technology Officer. His research interests include computer security and privacy, especially relating to media and consumer products; and technology law and policy. He has published about 80 papers in the research literature and two books. His research on topics such as web security, copyright, and copy protection, and electronic voting has been covered extensively in the popular press. His weblog, at, is widely read for its commentary on technology, law, and policy.

Ryan Calo is the Lane Powell and D. Wayne Gittinger Associate Professor at the University of Washington School of Law. He is a faculty co-director (with Batya Friedman and Tadayoshi Kohno) of the University of Washington Tech Policy Lab. Professor Calo’s research on law and emerging technology appears or is forthcoming in leading law reviews (California Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, and Columbia Law Review) and technical publications (MIT Press, Nature, Artificial Intelligence) and is frequently referenced by the mainstream media (NPR, New York Times, Wall Street Journal).

Mildred Solomon is President of The Hastings Center. Both a bioethicist and a social scientist, Dr. Solomon’s research has focused on palliative care, organ transplantation, medical professionalism, and the responsible conduct of research. She serves on policy commissions and advises international non-governmental organizations on a wide range of health and science policy topics. In addition to her leadership role at The Hastings Center, Solomon is Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, where she directs the school’s Fellowship in Bioethics. Before coming to The Hastings Center, she was Senior Director for Implementation Science at the Association of American Medical Schools. She holds a B.A. from Smith College and a doctorate in educational research from Harvard.

Continue the conversation on Twitter at #EthicsforReopening.