Could ACLU Have a ‘Say’ In WA Contact Tracing? Legalities?
The actual original response letter was sent to Governor Inslee March 18, 2020. An updated version was released May 4. But it's not really been until now that it has surfaced. Will it have an impact on Contact Tracing?
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) sent a letter on their stance about Inslee's Contact Tracing COVID program. We at Newstalk 870 were alerted to it by some news/reporting activists who've been following this situation closely.
The ACLU has some very interesting things to say about the potential legalities of Inslee's plan. At issue really, are steps 4 and 5 of his 'box in the virus' plan. Contact Trace Workers will interview a positive testing COVID person, and determine who their 'contacts' (friends, co-workers, family etc) are and if they've been close to them during contagious period. Then THOSE 'contacts' are to be quarantined. It appears penalties, fines await those who refuse to cooperate.
This has legal experts buzzing.
Here's some of what the ACLU letter had to say:
"The tool should not displace non-technological, known, and effective public health measures such as testing, counseling, research, and treatment. Every TACT proposal is predicated on the availability of widespread, affordable, and prompt testing, and without such measures, deploying a TACT tool may actually divert resources from testing, which is perhaps the most vital public health measure."
And this next statement is the big one that people are beginning to point to. It reads in part:
"The tool must be voluntary at every step. A compulsory TACT tool may pose threats to people’s fundamental rights to privacy and association, and may dissuade people from using it, decreasing the tool’s effectiveness."
These are both from the ACLU White Paper published on the subject. We've not heard any public feedback from Gov. Inslee concerning whether he's taking this into account, but it's quite possible these principles will serve as the basis (along with Constitutional freedoms) for lawsuits or other action challenging Contact Tracing as Inslee has structured it.
To read the entire letter for yourself, click on the button below.