"We are working around the clock to finalise our protocol reference documents and reference implementation, to open source what we have built, so that others may deploy their own flavours of TraceTogether - each implementing the BlueTrace protocol. We appreciate your patience in the meantime."
For the majority of people if they go to https://www.google.com/maps/timeline they'll have a tracker of everywhere they've visited and the time they were in each location.
If you could take people's accounts who've been infected and give them the ability to opt-into sharing this information you could have a pretty good source of information about the locations where they dwelled for long periods of time and who should go into self-isolation.
One of the gestures I think Google could make in this fight is to allow people to opt into that data sharing on a strictly limited basis. I’d opt in if it was only going to be provided for the purposes of medical infection contact tracing while this pandemic is rife.
Since signal is weak I enabled 'WiFi calling' which also shares location info with the carrier (so they know if you are roaming or not, presumably).
Just a matter of companies buying/implementing them.
I guess it's not more well-known because it's not in the stores interests to publicize it.
Would you suggest that we not have public health departments engage in contact tracing at all to combat the pandemic? If so, I'm not sure what to tell you.
Otherwise, apps may go a long way to improve the speed and accuracy of contact tracing. Here in the US, I'd much rather use a protocol like TraceTogether's Bluetrace that goes out of its way to preserve privacy, than adopt an actually-privacy-violating centralized approach where the government simply gathers everyone's location data and processes it centrally (Israel's approach, for example).
>Would you suggest that we not have public health departments engage in contact tracing at all to combat the pandemic? If so, I'm not sure what to tell you.
I have never said that so I am not sure what to tell you. The only method that works is quarantine, remote control is a copout to address the lack of contact with the population. Moreover, what I am addressing is how the tracking is NEVER going to go away even after the emergency is gone.
> Israel's approach for example
On this topic, Israel tech companies are right now sending out business proposals to the Italian government to try and implement their methods (viz. https://www.ilgazzettino.it/nordest/primopiano/coronavirus_z... last thing Europe needs during this crysis is ANOTHER political mindset shift towards walls and a iron boot.
Literally nobody in the epi community believes that. Would you please state your credentials, or cite a credible source for that statement? (For the opposite, please do read takes from Trevor Bedford, Mark Lipsitch, Carl Bergstrom, Andy Slavitt or really pretty much anybody in the field)
We (the US) are currently in a state were suppression is the only prudent tool. As SK has shown, contact tracing & testing help a lot once you're not completely inundated by cases (and actually have a meaningful supply of equipment)
Yes, there are privacy concerns. Work on them. Address them. But blanket statements like "only quarantine works" are extremely detrimental to public health efforts - the last thing you want is an "all or nothing" mindset
How do you know that this is the current state?
> As SK has shown, contact tracing & testing help a lot once you're not completely inundated by cases (and actually have a meaningful supply of equipment)
"meaningful supply of equipment" means this option is not possible in the US?
Look at the number of cases and their regional distribution, realize that those are tested cases and thus, with a) asymptomatic carriers and b) really bad testing in the US, the number of active cases is at least 10x that. Then realize you're dealing with an exponential process. United States are thoroughly infected already.
> "meaningful supply of equipment" means this option is not possible in the US?
Not now, but if and when the US implements proper suppression measures, and the number of cases goes down to manageable levels (while at the same time the supply chain of PPE catches up to demand), then the supply of equipment will be meaningful.
"meaningful supply" was in the context of avoiding a lockdown and hence i don't undrestand your answer. if you don't have the equipment now, how do you avoid the lockdown and make the levels go down without large quantities of dead people?
Containment: Testing & contact tracing - you try to contain the disease before it widely spreads. Usually one of the early stages of fighting.
Mitigation: You can't contain any more, and you're trying to slow down the progress to avoid a large peak. Test & treat those with severe symptoms, encourage people with mild symptoms to stay home, encourage people to keep distance.
Suppression: Things have hit the fan. You need to drastically halt the progress of the epidemic. This is shelter-in-place, lockdown, quarantine etc. #staythefuckhome has become a bit more mandatory. That's pretty much where we are right now. You want to drastically reduce the number of infections in a short amount of time.
"Meaningful supply" was in the context of suppression actually taking hold. At some point, you're hopefully down to illness levels where containment or mitigation make sense again. But for that to happen, you need tests, you need PPE, you need infrastructure so you actually can contain. We're at suppression/lockdown because we failed at that the first time round.
So, it's not about avoiding the lockdown now.
The goal is lockdown now to prevent catastrophic overload and buy time to get supplies in place for later containment stages.
Hope that clarifies?
But, of course, containment is not guaranteed to work, so we might be cycling back and forth between those measures
The report #9 from the Imperial College of London details the ideas behind that cycling approach: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/s...
But "stay at home" has been a mantra for weeks anyway, with everybody acting as if they and everyone else is infected.
> It’s why most of them don’t get to this point.
But we are at this point already.
Singapore isn't. (the government that is building this app). Neither is Taiwan. Through a combination of contact tracing, surveillance, national health databases and enforcing compliance of quarantined individuals by for example regularly checking in on them they have been able to both contain the spread of the disease and keep a reasonable amount of economic and social life intact.
I will continue to be mystified by this weird and abstract notion of privacy that keeps others away from my data but results in mass lockdown, quarantines, shutdowns and curfews, while people in Singapore give some data to authorities and they can still go out and live their lives. I want material freedom to buy groceries and go to work, not some sort of religious dogmatic privacy while some plague wreaks havoc and I need to haul up in my apartment for months.
Even if one or two piecemeal measures like that were to be implemented, it will not change the fact of terrific ineptitude of current, and few previous office holders.
Without fixing that first, you will never get to the level of trust needed for the society to function, and not to fall apart upon first serious crisis.
In comparison to East Asia, North America is a very uneventful place, where the apparatus of state has not been truly stress tested in decades. For every Katrina USA had, countries in Asia have like 20, and having non-idiots in the office is much more of an existential need.
Even in a patently broken country like PRC, it's the response to natural disasters which is the only thing that really tickles the CPC when it comes to public anger.
For what it's worth, I think open source, opt-in, decentralized, user controlled contact tracing such as that being discussed above is about as good a solution as we can hope for in such a situation.
That being said, I think you've completely failed to understand why some people respond the way they do. Their concerns aren't about freedom in the short term, but rather civil liberties in the long term. Quarantines will necessarily be lifted, but government surveillance has a nasty tendency not to go away. More generally, civil liberties are permanently lost with a disturbing consistency no matter how temporary the original intent.
Nobody out there is either fully informed or perfectly rational, so it's important to understand the underlying motivations behind other's viewpoints if you want to get anywhere. I'm certainly dissatisfied by the incredible ineptitude the US has displayed, but I also value my civil liberties highly and wouldn't want to live in Taiwan. Make of that what you will.
What's interesting to me is that with the right institutions, surveillance does not actually even diminish one's right to qualified privacy.
It can be illegal to use identifiable data for various purposes, or illegal to use identifiable data in a non-fiduciary manner.
With respect to abuses of the surveillance power, it can be employed against those in power as well, to prevent abuses of their power. e.g. police bodycam can work against abusive police if the laws should support it.
So it's important to see surveillance as a sword that needs proper laws to use responsibly, that allows a society with proper laws to obtain better freedom from actual harm and also a better quality of life. If we should just bury our heads as the technology materializes, the abusers will be the ones to exploit surveillance infrastructure.
In cautionary tales like Nineteen-Eighty-Four, Brave New World, or in the design of the Panopticon, the surveillance power was in the hands of a large power, not themselves held accountable by surveillance. But with the right laws, a citizenry can hold a government accountable and limit government and powerful offices by surveillance. These tales fail to see the how surveillance can help strengthen egalitarian institutions. They were more concerned with demonstrating just how powerful surveillance is, a reasonable point, than with how it could be employed to reinforce egalitarian institutions.
Get your priorities right: “you won’t believe...” clickbait no. Contact tracing to stop a disease that turns your lungs to frothy blood-juice. Fuck yes
That doesn't describe me, that describes the straw man your require to be at ease with your own choices, which in turn is the only signal in your comment.
Lockdown buys time to introduce new measures. Those measures are:
1. Quarantining positive individuals.
2. Physically enforcing that quarantine. The honor system doesn't work. People are very clearly not obeying voluntary quarantine.
3. Contact tracing, and testing of everyone that positive individuals have interacted with.
Once we get a system that can handle 1, 2, and 3 in place, we can lift the lockdown. This is how Korea and Singapore are beating the virus. This is how China's going to be lifting their lockdown.
That's because every single Western country has fucked up the handling of initial stages of the pandemic. Everyone has seen what's going on in China and then Italy, and we all ended up on the spectrum of doing too little, too late (US in particular is leading here).
"Stay at home", social distancing, closing up businesses - those are suppression strategies. They're meant to shut the virus spread down. But they don't have to last all the way until the vaccine - if the number of cases and infection rate go down enough, these measures can be lifted - and then contact tracing can be used to do local quarantines and shutdowns with surgical precision, ensuring most people can live their daily lives as if no pandemic was happening.
Wouldn’t people just stop using any tracking applications once there is no tracking needed?
The way I see it is so long as there is a pandemic we have no freedom anyway. It might seem like tracking your citizens is infringing a freedom, but if the option is house arrest I don’t mind.
Any government that would be ready to monitor everyone all the time for no obvious reason isn’t democratic. I trust my government because I live in a functioning democracy. I wouldn’t trust the Chinese government, or even the Hungarian one, and I‘d have second thoughts about trusting the US govt to do the right thing. But most democracies should be able to use technology to provide more freedom in this situation, not less.
It’s a true test of a democracy to do this right. But not trying of fear of a perpetual big brother society I think is the wrong choice.
There's a risk that once the capacity is tried and tested, governments and private companies alike will try to make it enticing and useful for different means. The role of privacy activists should be nipping all these follow-up ideas in the bud. Ensuring that emergency measures are used only during actual emergencies. But not fighting them in situations like this.
Actually I suppose this matches my view on location histories. I like them as an idea, but current implementations exfiltrate all the data off of my device which bothers me to no end.
This is tin foil hat nonsense. The US has implemented martial law before. Those rights weren't taken away forever.
People gave up the right to fly at all after 9/11. That was re-instituted for almost everyone in short order.
It was and still is. How do you believe this nonsense?
Also, several provisions from the Patriot Act haven't been renewed, so your example proves my point.
Since 9/11 in particular, the Western world has seen constant attempts to increase mass surveillance, lower the burden of proof, and dampen human rights, always in the name of whatever they have the public most fearful of at the time - drugs, terrorists, paedos, criminals, the Russians, the Chinese, the Mexicans, communists, Islam, foreigners taking our jobs, the boogey man de jour.
I'm absolutely certain that we'll see politicians try to use coronavirus as an excuse for their Orwellian schemes.
The future of society isn't no surveillance. That's not tractable. Genie's out of the bottle (as this release of a population tracking tool as open source demonstrates). The question isn't how to stop it; it's how to live with it.
I can't disagree with that; honestly, it felt like the media and politicians conspired to bury it. Revelation after revelation was made after outlets like The Intercept went through the evidence, yet hardly anything made the mainstream news, and when it did, it was fleeting. The CIA destroyed evidence and lied to congress, but there was little impact.
> The question isn't how to stop it; it's how to live with it
This I disagree with. We've been shown that the supposedly "benevolent" Western governments of today can't be trusted with laws that permit over-arching mass surveillance and the dampening of civil liberties and human rights, and we've seen the inevitable creeping escalations - who knows what a worse government of tomorrow might do?
Quite honestly, I'm increasingly starting to believe that privacy has been on borrowed time ever since we discovered DNA. That doesn't mean all privacy is going to be gone; just that to survive, societies need to learn how to handle pandemics very swiftly, and that seems to require large-scale, real-time management.
Being honest, I don't think there is any need for such alarmism. If anything, this pandemic has demonstrated that a viral bioweapen could ensure MAD just as well as the nuclear variety.
> Advancement of science and technology in large parts means making more and more potentially destructive power available to individuals and small groups
You are implying that individuals could release a bioweapon upon the world - sorry, but again I think this is pure alarmism, and absolutely not what we need right now. I don't doubt that politicians will soon be making similar arguments in a grab for more power, but please, don't give them ideas!
> How do you propose...
I'm not in the medical field, so I don't have a proposal. But as a human being, I personally don't see how mass surveillance is the answer, especially so given we can't trust our governments with such tools.
I don't doubt that the WHO and experts from across the globe will be making plans to more rapidly contain future outbreaks. I'm certainly interested to learn more about such plans when they exist though.
Looks at JHU map... I think there is.
> If anything, this pandemic has demonstrated that a viral bioweapen could ensure MAD just as well as the nuclear variety.
A viral bioweapon is like trying to enact MAD by being the only ones with nukes and threatening to nuke everyone including yourself unless others do as you wish. It's a domain of mad men.
> You are implying that individuals could release a bioweapon upon the world - sorry, but again I think this is pure alarmism, and absolutely not what we need right now.
I'm implying that small groups could do it now, and individuals perhaps a decade for now. Biohacking has been a thing for a while now, and the main limiting factor is still that a) most people are sane, b) this is still difficult and you're more likely to give yourself diarrhea than weaponize a pathogen.
> I don't doubt that the WHO and experts from across the globe will be making plans to more rapidly contain future outbreaks. I'm certainly interested to learn more about such plans when they exist though.
Contact tracing seems like a no-brainer here. Great payoff for relatively little effort.
> A viral bioweapon is like trying to enact MAD by being the only ones with nukes and threatening to nuke everyone including yourself unless others do as you wish. It's a domain of mad men.
Maybe I misunderstood you then - you said "the one after that purposeful". Based on your latest comment, I guess this was in relation to small groups or individuals, not governments.
> Contact tracing seems like a no-brainer here. Great payoff for relatively little effort
OK, we have common ground here :) I fully agree that contact tracing is essential when a new and dangerous virus is discovered. Where I think we differ is the means to that end.
Johns Hopkins University, in particular their map here:
> I guess this was in relation to small groups or individuals, not governments.
Yup, I meant primarily small groups. Coarse-level bioweapons have bad payoff for governments - they're as likely to harm the attacker as the target. A targeted weapon, hurting only a specific group of people, would be more useful for a government, but it's still risky business - pathogens tend to mutate rather fast. I'm more worried about the crazy people that have a grudge and/or a point to make, and no regard for their own safety.
> Where I think we differ is the means to that end.
It's really, really hard to do contact tracing without some form of surveillance / keeping track of people's whereabouts. Systems that could streamline existing data collection end up giving similar data to what this app would.
OK, we're fully agreed that covid-19 is extremely serious, my disagreement is your belief that biological warfare is readily available to small groups or individuals.
As a counterexample, have you considered that much of the cutting edge biological research takes place in academic labs? The vast majority of those would fit the definition of a small group, and many of the projects they undertake are conducted by only one or two individuals. The level of expertise required and difficulty of learning the material are the main barriers to entry for outsiders.
Someone with a viral bioweapon will develop it together with a vaccine. They will let only their people and allies have the vaccine, ensuring it is distributed secretly ahead of time, and wipe out everyone else.
Or possibly use it for blackmail: surrender everything to us, and those of you still left alive will be spared.
Therefore, I'd expect one to be developed by some suicidal crazies with a grudge, who also won't have a particular need for a vaccine.
Honestly, it's not alarmist at this point and it's not just limited to bioweapons. A whole host of chemicals such as dimethylmercury exist and could potentially be weaponized.
Science and technology advance relentlessly; at some point we will have to figure out how to apply our new capabilities to achieve surveillance without the dystopian part. Unfortunately, current political processes don't lend themselves to this.
For context, quoting from Wikipedia:
"The acute toxicity of the compound was demonstrated by the death of heavy metal chemist Karen Wetterhahn, who died 10 months after a single exposure of only a few drops permeated through her disposable latex gloves."
Which reminds me of another, bit more common, chemical: hydrofluoric acid. It's a nasty substance that - in low enough concentration - can penetrate your skin, killing cells on its way to the bones, and disrupt the work of internal organs, with symptoms only visible after hours have passed.
Not to scare people too much, but the last 100 years have given us a tremendous amount of tools to do harm, a lot of which are available to smart and determined enough individuals. At this point it's evident that the reason humanity hasn't already self-destructed is that most people aren't crazy maniacs and don't want to kill (at least not at random). Bioweapons are particularly nasty here because they self-replicate. It's not like with nuclear weapons, where the limiting factor is that the infrastructure necessary to weaponize fission material is affordable only for state-level actors. For bioweapons, all you need is base pathogen, some (arguably expensive) lab equipment, and a smart enough crazy.
9/11 was an avoidable attack and a failure of information analysis; the information needed to stop it existed but had not been consolidated. A lot of Americans are extremely disinterested in bring attacked that way again, even 20 years later.
It's not just the US, it's the whole of the Western world. The UK in particular has been very complicit with the US in their joint mass surveillance.
The threat of terrorist activity in the west is vanishingly low, and IMO, is partially driven by western foreign policy. Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and the disgusting, utterly horrifying organised torture program the CIA has undertaken at "black sites" has certainly not helped (I doubt since an organised horror has taken place since the Nazis).
> 9/11 was an avoidable attack and a failure of information analysis; the information needed to stop it existed but had not been consolidated. A lot of Americans are extremely disinterested in bring attacked that way again, even 20 years later.
I don't want to get deep in 9/11 in particular, but mass surveillance wasn't the solution - the 5-eyes' toxic, oil-driven relationship with Saudi Arabia was a big factor, and the CIA not hiding information from the FBI would very likely have stopped it.
We've seen similar failings on a smaller scale with incidents in Europe, where the perpetrators were known to the authorities beforehand. Even where they communicated with each other "openly" using SMS, politicians called for a ban on encryption - these parasites take every opportunity to spread FUD and use it to their advantage.
I think where we at least agree is a belief that many people simply don't care; they don't understand the risks with the current government, let alone future ones.
What do you believe the truth was? I replied to somebody else in this thread who believed the truth was far wilder than anything in Snowden's leaks.
If the result is (another) permanent loss of privacy and freedom akin to the PATRIOT act, then yes.
Technology has immense power to do good for people, but only if those who deploy it do so ethically. How many governments around the world can we honestly predict to do so?
Balance can be found. And increasingly, it looks like in the modern era, the balance is found in a situation where the PATRIOT act exists and we find a new normal around its existence.
Which government of more than a few million people do you assume doesn't have a line into monitoring intra- and interstate digital communications in this era?
I regret that - assuming my own ongoing case of COVID-19 resolves without fatal complication - I'm quite likely, I think, to have that curiosity satisfied. I regret it because this isn't a cause for change of perspective which I would wish on anyone. But everything I'm seeing suggests it's a cause for change of perspective that many millions of people are going to have.
I sincerely hope for your swift recovery.
With an app like tracetogether, you can just uninstall it after the pandemic, right? No need to surrender your rights forever.
We already have NSA / Tech company "collaboration" so this is hardly a huge step in terms of tech or privacy invasion. It would just be the next step.
Of course, 'you can only surrender your rights once' and 'you can only die once' aren't equivalent either. Once a nation of people surrenders their rights, nobody ever has those rights again (even if the loss of those rights costs lives). A person, or a group of people, becoming ill or passing away doesn't take away the lives of the next generation.
If you think back on the experiences of the last century, how much harm would be done if we couldn't freely assemble because a government decided to intervene? We'd have stayed in Vietnam longer, black folks may not have ever won their civil rights, and its possible women would be unable to vote.
For the record, I don't downplay the suffering of illness. I've lost a parent to cancer, as well as many other family members. Everyone else alive is in the same boat. We're all mortal.
If I did, though, I suspect I would want them to live.
I disagree with "you can only surrender your rights once"; unlike life, rights can be won back. There's plenty of places on the planet in which you couldn't freely speak or assemble just a couple decades ago, but now you can. Things aren't going monotonically from bad to worse (though I admit, there's a strong directional pressure here; maintaining rights feels like fighting entropy).
I am a parent, I want my child to live in a world where the government doesn't abuse and spy on them, but where that government is also capable of containing an infectious pathogen (whether natural or purpose-made) pretty much as soon as it registers. There is a practical balance to be found there.
(And if we're trading imaginary worlds: I want my child to live in a world where private entities don't spy on them and sell private information, a world where adtech doesn't exist.)
My comment regarding illness is only to reinforce the point that everyone is mortal, and the vast majority of us have empathy for others and value the lives of at least one other person.
> unlike life, rights can be won back
This costs lives. How many wars have been fought to overthrow evil regimes? How many journalists or 'other' people are killed or enslaved in the world today by evil regimes?
Already had the virus, it was a bad cold.
Liberty or death.
The weak ones we shouldn't be prioritizing over the strong. Harboring weakness is just asking to be taken advantage of. It may seem empathetic at first, but all you end up doing is undermining the individuals growth and selling out the security of future generations. If you're an adult, you need to come to terms with death, and recognize that extending your life isn't worth stealing from future generations. They deserve more freedom than we've had. Not less.
edit: Well, you won't be held to it assuming we haven't reached a need for sufficiently severe triage, I suppose. Otherwise, you might get a chance to quite literally put your life on the line for the principle you've just espoused! I wish you joy of it.
> I wish you joy of it.
That was straight-up evil. Whatever empathy and respect you may have had just went out the window. I'm almost in disbelief that you would edit your post just to literally wish someone the "joy" of having a chance to die.
No, I don't think the unfortunate should be harmed or taken advantage of. I also don't think anyone should be forced to surrender their rights to governments, period. Everyone should have an equal opportunity to prosper in this world. That is impossible so long as there's some 'higher power' manipulating the system to the advantage of one group or another.
I hate war. I hate when the police enforce evil policies and eviscerate the lives of innocent people. I hate when governments play god and overthrow other governments for the financial gain of a select few.
You know what else I hate? When governments cover up the truth and cause massive pain and suffering. The Chinese government spies on their people, they used that system to silence the story about this virus which is now infecting people around the globe.
Giving up your right to privacy, speech, and defense is literally exactly how this happened in the first place.
If the truth had gotten out sooner, it could have been contained. Instead, the world economy is grinding to a halt and people are dying. All thanks to a government spying on its people's cell phone
Is that a choice they all individually made? Of course not. There are penalties for noncompliance, same as for laws here in the US, whether you agree with them or not. Did that also, though, save a lot of lives? Ask again in a year, I suppose; it's too soon to tell.
But by the same token, it's too soon to call that a failure, at least if lives saved is a figure of merit.
I think it should be. I'm not averse in concept to the sacrifice of life in defense of principle, but I am very much averse to the sacrifice of some life in defense of others' principle.
You spoke earlier of the horrors of dictatorship, of totalitarianism, and the like? As far as I'm concerned, every one of them starts right here. If you want to die on behalf of whatever principles you hold dear, you're welcome. That's your life to spend. It is the only life that's yours to spend.
Totalitarian regimes start with the people being stripped of their freedoms. In every case throughout history, they have stripped people of their rights to speech and defense.
> I am very much averse to the sacrifice of some life in defense of others' principle.
Then advocate for a better healthcare system and government accountability. They don't need to have the system to track people in order to provide healthcare, restrict foreign travel, or issue public guidance on how to handle the situation.
Besides, most people would happily volunteer the information, assuming it was on their terms and reasonably secure. But it never is.
> lives saved figure of merit
I agree, it should be. But you're not counting the lives lost or destroyed by the choice you favor. The "compromise" isn't to give up rights, it's to improve healthcare and preparation for situations like this.
Evil regimes killed 100+ Million people in around a 100 year period. Not allowing governments the power to do that level of evil saves more lives than the coronavirus could ever take.
Yes. But failing that, I'll take contact tracing and risking fines for breaking quarantine - which I would now be liable for, assuming I had also even been able to be tested in order to become a confirmed case, which is apparently too much to ask at the moment - over the combination of adtech surveillance for no greater point than to make money, and incompetent government response that seems all but guaranteed to end five or six figures' worth of lives minimum, that we have now.
It's unfortunate that you're a coward.
Death is not something to fear, and with a stock of strong pain killers neither is dying.
Edit: Please don't post unsubstantive or flamebait comments here generally. You've done it repeatedly, and we've already asked you not to.
Congratulations on having gotten over this pandemic virus. Good luck with the next one!
But of course we can't have that freedom.
It's fine, but as Jean Yang pointed out on Twitter, no-one would ordinarily call disclosing everyone you'd shared a location with over weeks "privacy-preserving". And once you've done it for some large fraction of infected people, you end up with a country-wide social graph built up, even though you weren't conducting mass surveillance in the usual meaning.
It's a loss of privacy either way (whether done via location or Bluetooth contact). I'd rather just have the conversation about how we've decided to suspend physical metadata privacy to combat the pandemic, than act like the Singapore model is going to preserve it.
Why does this imply such invasive measures?
What data is collected? Are you able to see my personal data?
The only data that we collect is your mobile number, so that MOH can contact you more quickly if you were in close proximity to a COVID-19 case.
With your consent, TraceTogether exchanges Bluetooth proximity data with nearby phones running the same app. However, this data is anonymised and encrypted, and does not reveal your identity or the other person's identity. Also, this data is stored only on the user’s phone. Should MOH need the data for contact tracing, they will seek your consent to share it with them.
That's the definition of PII and will eventually be abused for purposes other than emergency contact.
What would be useful is a common standard for Bluetooth transmission so all these apps could talk to each other.
I agree with this and your sentiment, but I think it is misplaced in this instance.
As I understand it, the TraceTogether app collects (and stores locally), information on other users running the TraceTogether app nearby. If our government's contact tracers contact us, we can provide the information, and it can help in contact tracing. This seems to me to be at or near the minimum amount of information collection necessary to fulfil the function. Assuming voluntary widespread adoption, it is useful, and can be uninstalled at any time once the crisis blows over.
I would much rather have a system like this than to be indiscriminately tracked and lose more privacy potentially indefinitely. The tracking can't be indefinite if I'm asked for permission, because if I don't think there's good reason for it I'll just say no. And if I'm worried the app's privacy measures aren't good enough and it'll be abused, I'll just uninstall it.
Consent is the key!
Also - its really disturbing that a few years ago, Apple created an update where you cant turn off wifi or bluetooth - you can now only "pause it"
But there has not been a look into proving that it is actually OFF when your little soft icon is grey...
It turns the functionality off completely, and stays off until you manually turn it back on.
In control centre it only partially turns off. But that’s not unreasonable as many people don’t understand how many feature rely on Bluetooth. They would probably get annoyed when the stop working, just because they wanted to quickly disconnect some headphones.
Check out the bottom of this page for more: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208086
I want an app that tells me EVERYTHING that my phones radios are doing. ALL of them, and ALL the data.
At least with Apple, they’re under so much scrutiny you can be fairly confident that if their software was lying it would quickly appear in the news.
Finally the above clearly shows that your assertion you can’t turn off the WiFi or Bluetooth radios is false (assuming the software isn’t outright lying, if think that then you should have said so in your first comment).
THAT is "apple software lying"
And your point is absurd "If you want a phone you can trust, then you need to build your own phone"
Fuck that logic.
How do you know the hardware you use doesn't have a microdot that can bypass the monitoring logic and physically manipulate the radio without the OS's consent?
How do you know the software you're running doesn't embed its own bluetooth stack and use a 0-day exploit to gain physical control over the radio?
Oh, you compiled it yourself? With whose compiler? Are you sure that compiler faithfully adheres to the spec of the language and doesn't know how to embed a bluetooth stack that, etc.
Push the paranoia slider far enough, and you end up having to care about all this stuff.
Not to mention any number of actors could have already been tracking this signal for years. It's the nature of how bluetooth devices broadcast their presence.
Until government makes it mandatory.
This would be a point if near-omnipresent camera feeds were reduced in favor of using this.
But the much more likely outcome is that this will only end up increasing overall surveillance capabilities, not reign them in.
Yea, but it's much worse than non-shitty suggestions. Obviously if you pick the shittiest option anything will look good.
My intuition is that rapid adoption of a relatively transparent privacy-preseving option could preempt more heavy-handed approaches to what could be a very valuable public health intervention.
These privacy exceptions all affected goverments are talking about (Italy being a great example, viz. Veneto region governor asking for a change in privacy laws the other day) are not going to magically disappear once the coast is clear, just like post 9/11 emergency laws still being used in the US.
I believe there are other ways to help people and that, if you are a government that claims having to resort to remote control its popoulation, maybe your power is either insufficient for your secret expansion goals or you're an inefficient populist.
Every (western) government publicly hates the Chinese government but they do seem to have wet dreams about the population control bit, especially when backed by corporations.
It's like hating gunpowder exists because people can make bullets and fight wars with it.
Just for now. Uninstall when the pandemic clears.
Thank you for posting this!
That being said though, the app is absolute garbage on iPhone. Obviously not really their fault, but needing to have the app actively on for it to work is absolutely going to lead to people not bothering to turning it on.
Assuming Apple's policies are in fact preventing them from running in the background, does Apple have a mechanism to grant them an exception for this use case? Does someone have a contact at Apple who could reach out to them?
Looking for contributors!
I suspect the bigger issue is people don't want to be told by an app that they need to go get tested.
Come to think of it, cities like New York could push it as part of a bigger, more comprehensive covid app...
It is not a mobile app. You export your data from Google (thanks GDPR!), and filter out personally identifiable data points before submitting. We also let you know exactly who is about to use your donated data (we only allow academic researchers to have access), and give you advance notice so you can delete it if you don’t want your data to be used in a particular project.
We are MIT licensed and are figuring out how to make data donation safe via UX and engineering. We need all the help we can get - even if it’s just feedback. Feel reach out! Nessup@gmail.com
E.g. In Switzerland this was done manually (by medical staff mostly i think) in the very beginning, but they gave up very quickly on it because of lack of resources.