Privacy concerns rise as measures become more desperate to help people through the pandemic. As not everyone is following the social distance guidelines, questions on how to ensure the public health have brought in government surveillance as an option.
In California, there are over 43,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, in Los Angeles County alone there are nearly 20,000 confirmed cases. Strict social distance guidelines have been placed to help ensure safety, especially in heavily populated areas.
Governor Greg Abbott of Texas has set the stay at home order to expire on Apr. 30 at midnight. Not all businesses will reopen and those that do won’t be at the normal capacity.
On Apr. 30 protesters gathered around the Michigan State Capitol to end social distancing guidelines. Pictures that were uploaded to the UpNorthLive website show that the protesters were not staying six feet away from each other or wearing any form of face covers.
USA Today reported on Apr. 28 that Apple and Google would be setting up apps in mid-May to help track who has been infected with the COVID-19 and if you have been in close proximity with a person who has the virus.
However, this leaves a lot of worry for potential users and their private information. People worry about who will have their direct information, and for how long.
Australia has already begun using this technology and about two million people have downloaded the app, COVIDSafe. Philip DeFranco, a popular YouTuber, recently posted a video to his channel discussing the progress Australia has made with digital tracking of the virus.
“Very notably here the app is not mandatory. If you want it you can get it and the Australian Government will not collect location data,” DeFranco stated.
The Australian Government pointed out that because it uses Bluetooth, the information is encrypted into the phone and no one, not even the user, can log into private information. The system will erase all data that’s been collected after 21 days on a repeated cycle.
The COVIDSafe app has no power to enforce isolation, restrictions, or any laws. All information concerning the app itself was given out by the health administrator of Australia and nothing has been set in law.
“The app is already extremely popular,” DeFranco added as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted out on Apr. 27 that over 2 million people have downloaded the app.
DeFranco added the fact that the Australian government stated that in order for the app to become effective in slowing the spread of the virus, 40% of the population need to download the app. The Prime Minister also noted that the more people download the app, the sooner economical restrictions would be lifted.
The country reported that the daily infection growth-rate is less than 1%.
Google and Apple have stated that all apps would be completely voluntary, “Google says access is granted only to public health authorities whose apps have to meet standards for privacy, security and data control,” as reported on USA Today.
The tracking app would work similarly to the COVIDSafe app in Australia, in that it uses Bluetooth. The app would also delete information, or “codes” as it is referred.
All apps will be reviewed before being accessible to the public.