National contact tracking app coming soon, says Trudeau

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hopes that Canadians will download a new application to their cell phones that will alert them if they come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 caused by the new coronavirus. The app is run by the Canadian Digital Service, a government initiative connecting departments to startups, with the help of Shopify, BlackBerry and the Government of Ontario. Premier Doug Ford is expected to have more details later today.

“If your test is positive for COVID-19, a healthcare professional will help you upload your status anonymously to a national network,” said Trudeau during his daily briefing on Thursday morning.

“Other users who have the app and have been near you will then be notified that they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive. The notification will encourage them to contact their local public health authorities. ”

The Premier has said that while Ontario will start testing the app first, it will be available to everyone in the coming weeks.

Public health officials have championed the practice of tracking people who may have been in contact with an infected person for testing and isolation, and this step is widely seen as vital to the pandemic recovery. a country.

While most provinces do this arduous work with volunteers, conversations and negotiations have continued with tech companies for weeks about developing smartphone apps to speed up efforts.

Trudeau said last month that the government hopes to publicly approve an app to encourage its use across the country.

Use of the app is voluntary, explains PM

Alberta has been using its own app called ABTraceTogether for weeks now. Some people are worried about a hodgepodge of apps across the country that could lead to messaging confusion, low usage, and inconsistent data.

A man looks at his phone while standing near the illustration of a woman wearing a face mask in Vancouver on May 31. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press)

Trudeau noted that the new application will be entirely voluntary.

“At no time will personal information be collected or shared, and no location service will be used,” he said.

“The privacy of Canadians will be fully respected. ”

Today’s announcement will likely also be reviewed by privacy advocates, who have expressed concerns about the amount of data collected by these emerging technologies and how that information is stored.

Federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners released a joint statement in May, intended to serve as guidelines before adopting any type of technology to track Canadians.

They warned that apps should be voluntary and that users should be fully aware of what information will be collected, how it will be used, who will have access to it, where it will be stored, how it will be kept secure and when it will be collected. . destroyed, they said.

(CBC)

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