The extractive infrastructures of contact tracing apps

Aouragh, M., Gürses, S., Pritchard, H and Snelting, F. 2020. The extractive infrastructures of contact tracing apps. Journal of Environmental Media. 1 (1), pp. 9.2-9.9. https://doi.org//10.1386/jem_00030_1

TitleThe extractive infrastructures of contact tracing apps
TypeJournal article
AuthorsAouragh, M., Gürses, S., Pritchard, H and Snelting, F.
Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic will go down in history as a major crisis, with calls for debt moratoriums that are expected to have gruesome effects in the Global South. Another tale of this crisis that would come to dominate COVID-19 news across the world was a new technological application: the contact tracing apps. In this article, we argue that both accounts ‐ economic implications for the Global South and the ideology of techno-solutionism ‐ are closely related. We map the phenomenon of the tracing app onto past and present wealth accumulations. To understand these exploitative realities, we focus on the implications of contact tracing apps and their relation with extractive technologies as we build on the notion racial capitalism. By presenting themselves in isolation of capitalism and extractivism, contact tracing apps hide raw realities, concealing the supply chains that allow the production of these technologies and the exploitative conditions of labour that make their computational magic manifest itself. As a result of this artificial separation, the technological solutionism of contract tracing apps is ultimately presented as a moral choice between life and death. We regard our work as requiring continuous undoing ‐ a necessary but unfinished formal dismantling of colonial structures through decolonial resistance.

Keywordsextractivism
exploitation
tracing apps
capital accumulation
techno-solutionism
racial capitalism
decolonial computing
JournalJournal of Environmental Media
Journal citation1 (1), pp. 9.2-9.9
ISSN2632-2463
2632-2471
Year2020
PublisherIntellect
Publisher's version
License
CC BY-NC 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org//10.1386/jem_00030_1
Publication dates
Published01 Jun 2020

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