Monitoring the R-Citizen in the Time of COVID-19

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Lewis, Monique
Flood, John
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Lewis, Monique
Holland, Kate
Govender, Eliza
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2021
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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed many countries in their attempts at tracking and tracing people infected with the disease. This chapter examines how tracking and tracing is done looking at manual and technological means. It raises the issues around efficiency and privacy, investigating more closely the approaches taken by two countries, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. The key messages are that all communications around tracking and tracing need to be open, clear, without confusion, and delivered by those closest to the communities receiving the messages. Taiwan learnt from its earlier experiences with SARS, whereas the United Kingdom ignored its pandemic planning exercises from earlier years and even experimented with crude ideas of herd immunity by letting the disease rip through the population – an idea that was soon abandoned. We also derive a new type of citizen from the pandemic, namely ‘R-citizens’ – datafied individuals who are reduced to data and their potential to spread infection. We argue they cannot be so distinguished without rendering them inhuman. This is as much a moral category as it is a scientific one. We suggest one approach to the handling of data through blockchain as a means of ensuring the integrity and transparency of the data.

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Communicating COVID-19: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
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© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. It is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the publisher’s website for further information.
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Language, communication and culture
Communication and media studies
Social Science
COVID
COVID-19
Coronavirus
data
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Lewis, M; Flood, J, Monitoring the R-Citizen in the Time of COVID-19, Communicating COVID-19: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 2021, 1, 1, pp. 345-370
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