Health experts have long used contact tracing to stop epidemics like Ebola. And they're trying to use it to stop COVID-19. But getting enough Americans to cooperate so that it works effectively will be tough.
The CDC gives contact tracing the creepy term of "public health surveillance." Using either Bluetooth or location services on your phone, contact tracing apps record who we've been in contact with, in case people nearby have COVID-19.
Nations like Singapore are already using it. An ad for it tries to reassure citizens by telling them, "Get peace of mind for you and your family through community-driven contact tracing. Tracing together helps contact tracers notify you more quickly."
Now, House Bill 6666, the COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone or TRACE Act, would give $100 billion to local organizations to help with testing and contact tracing by funding door-to-door outreach.
Contrary to what you may have heard, it does not authorize anyone to enter your home or allow the government to remove anyone from your home because of coronavirus.
It would also not add greater traceability to people's phones, which are already highly traceable, without a person voluntarily adding an app to their phone.
But could the government legally force us to take a tracing app?
Professor Brad Jacob, a constitutional expert at Regent University, says 'No.'
"The Supreme Court, just a couple years ago ruled that the government can't use pings off of cell towers to tell them where someone is without getting a warrant first," Jacob told CBN News. "And to get a warrant you have to have probable cause that there's a crime."
But could the government restrict your freedom if you don't use a contact tracing app?
Jacob says, "The Supreme Court has long held that no rights are absolute. Typically, the government can override a constitutional right at least for a short period if it can show what we call 'a compelling state interest'."
Michael Daugherty, the CEO of LabMD, who has been fighting federal overreach in his industry for years, is the author of The Devil Inside the Beltway. He calls a tracing app, 'Big Brother.'
"It's a huge excuse to give the government more information," Daughtery warned. "And as we're seeing with who infiltrates our government, they will violate our rights and violate anyone's rights for political gain. And until that gets cleaned up...there's a whole lot of danger in doing it."
Any hope that Americans would cooperate voluntarily with a contact tracing app seems to be dead on arrival. A recent poll showed less than a third of Americans would participate in tracing if it's run by the federal government.
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