Using Apps for Contact Tracing: Can We Protect Privacy?

Governments in Canada have but to formally use cellphone information to trace and hint individuals who could also be contaminated with COVID-19. Nevertheless, there was dialogue round utilizing a system in Canada much like Singapore.

In Singapore, the app getting used to trace and hint individuals who might have contracted COVID-19 is “TraceTogether”. TraceTogether makes use of bluetooth expertise to trace close by telephones. Folks can then opt-in to have their info offered to the Ministry of Well being in the event that they take a look at constructive for COVID-19. As soon as the Ministry has the knowledge, it alerts individuals who got here throughout the contaminated particular person.

In Canada, a brand new app is probably not crucial, however could also be desired to make sure privateness by design. The apps on our telephones have already been monitoring us, analyzing us, and advertising and marketing to us – with various levels of significant consent. For instance, Google, Fb, and Apple are monitoring you. Even seemingly harmless apps like climate apps are monitoring you.

Within the 2019 article “Your Apps Know The place You Had been Final Night time, and They’re Not Maintaining It Secret“, the New York Occasions highlights the stealthy methods we’re being tracked.

It’s a scorching market, with gross sales of location-targeted promoting reaching an estimate $21 billion {dollars} this yr…

Companies say their curiosity is within the patterns, not the identities, that the information reveals about shoppers. They word that the knowledge apps acquire is tied to not somebody’s title or cellphone quantity however to a novel ID. However these with entry to the uncooked information — together with staff or shoppers — might nonetheless establish an individual with out consent. They might comply with somebody they knew, by pinpointing a cellphone that usually hung out at that particular person’s dwelling handle. Or, working in reverse, they might connect a reputation to an nameless dot, by seeing the place the machine spent nights and utilizing public data to determine who lived there…

Google and Fb, which dominate the cellular advert market, additionally lead in location-based promoting. Each corporations acquire the information from their very own apps. They are saying they don’t promote it however maintain it for themselves to personalize their providers, promote focused adverts throughout the web and monitor whether or not the adverts result in gross sales at brick-and-mortar shops…

With respect to Coronavirus, Google has already launched a report utilizing information about our whereabouts, titled Group Mobility Report. The Report highlights the mobility traits throughout Canada. Retail and recreation is down, whereas residential time has elevated. Equally, Fb has been gathering information on our location and sharing it with researchers at Harvard.

The New York Occasions lately reported that “Location Information Says It All: Staying at Dwelling Throughout Coronavirus is a Luxurious“. Jennifer Valentino-Devries, Denise Lu, and Gabriel Dance write that “The wealthiest folks, these within the prime 10 % of earnings have restricted their motion greater than these within the backside 10 % of the identical metro areas, in response to a Occasions evaluation of cellphone location information.” Decrease-income neighbourhoods are being hit the toughest, whereas wealthier individuals are higher capable of keep dwelling. The authors quote Adie Tomer, a fellow on the Brookings Establishment.

“Covid-19 is exposing loads of the structural disadvantages that low-income folks face,” together with an absence of job safety and uneven entry to well being care, stated Adie Tomer, a fellow on the Brookings Establishment who has studied the important work drive. “The well-off are employed in industries the place they’re at a desk, and so there are some benefits constructed into these high-income neighborhoods throughout this pandemic”…

Researching how COVID-19 spreads is vital. With the ability to contact hint individuals who might have COVID-19 is vital. Nevertheless, we have to be sure that privateness will not be sacrificed within the course of.

In Canada our authorities ought to purpose to guard private information whereas contact tracing and making an attempt to research information about motion. Within the article, “Why information safety legislation is uniquely outfitted to allow us to struggle a pandemic with private information,” it’s written that “the purpose of knowledge safety is to make sure that info referring to people is collected and utilized in such a means that every one their different elementary rights are protected. This consists of freedom of speech, the precise to personal life/privateness, the precise to life, the precise to safety, the precise to non-discrimination…”

EU privateness specialists have pushed for a decentralized strategy to COVID-19 contact tracing. Extra info could be discovered within the article by Tech Crunch.

Equally, a peer-to-peer app-based system for contact tracing was promoted in article within the Washington Submit “We want tech and authorities assist with contact tracing. That doesn’t need to imply Large Brother.”

Containing the virus requires that sure rights be curtailed, however we should always not sacrifice our privateness in an unreasonable or pointless method.

(Views are my very own and don’t replicate the views of any group.)

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