Disease Surveillance and the Fourth Amendment
With the right safeguards, aggressive disease surveillance is likely permissible under the Fourth Amendment. Like governments around the world, the United States is struggling with the “coronavirus trilemma”: It wants to protect lives, ease social isolation, and protect privacy and civil liberties, but it can do only two of those at the same time. In particular, and as South Korea’s successful management of the coronavirus shows, extensive surveillance may be the only way to control the outbreak while preserving some degree of normalcy for economic and social life.
I’ve argued that the longer the pandemic drags on, the more willing (and rightly so) people will be to trade in some of their privacy for the freedom to work and play. There is already significant support for location tracking among both policy experts and the general public, and we should expect this sentiment to increase.