The COVID-19 pandemic and trends in technology

This report from UK think tank Chatham House looks at transformations in governance and society.

Focusing on the dynamics between governments and big tech, on cybercrime, and on disinformation and fake news, this paper examines some of the risks that have been highlighted and aggravated as societies have transitioned at speed to a more virtual way of living. The COVID-19 pandemic has been called the ‘great accelerator’ of digital transformation, with technology at the forefront of countries’ response to the crisis. The experience of the past year has underscored that tech governance must be based on human-centric values that protect the rights of individuals but also work towards a public good. In the case of the development of track-and-trace apps, for instance, a successful solution should simultaneously be both respectful of individual privacy and robust from a cybersecurity perspective, while also effectively serving essential epidemiological goals. Ensuring a sound approach to tech policy has been made all the more complex by the context of the pandemic, as decision-makers have found themselves having to respond swiftly and decisively in a public health emergency. While there is considerable uncertainty as to the long-term consequences of their responses, the paper’s authors emphasize that a whole-of-society approach is needed that will restore and build greater public trust in the ability of governments and public-serving bodies to protect them, respect their rights and ensure the information they receive is solid and reliable.

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