An App For Our Times?

Have you downloaded the app yet? Installed it?

Or are you distrustful of this latest bit of modern technology? Big Brother really is watching.

When the COVID-19 phone app was first announced, I had my doubts. The idea seemed intriguing, an application that would warn you if you were exposed for 15 minutes or longer to anyone with the COVID-19 virus. Who, in the interest of public health, wouldn’t want that?

Me for one. And I am in favor of and follow the various practices that have become 2020: social distancing, a face mask in public and frequent hand washing. But this little piece of contact-tracing software worries me.

It isn’t just the built-in ineffectiveness. In order for it to work, infected people must be using it. But it isn’t compulsory, so there’s no guarantee they will.

Even more so, I have privacy concerns. The government assures us the data is all completely anonymous. No personal identifiers are available.

I am not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t think government is out to get me. But I don’t necessarily trust software designers either. I’ve had so many issues with technology that didn’t work as designed. Nor do I automatically trust government.

Given the voluntary nature of the app, I’m not sure it has much benefit – and may give people a false sense of security. While I have nothing to hide, I’m not sure I want to hand government yet another method of tracking me.

I assume they can already track my phone if they want, though legally a warrant would be required. There’s very little privacy left in this world; I’m not sure I want to voluntarily surrender mine in this case.

How do you feel about it? The few people I have spoken to in Canada all have the app and are using it. I haven’t asked any of my German friends, so I have no idea what they think of it.

Am I being paranoid? Or prudent? Where do we draw the line between freedom and responsibility?

What are your thoughts.


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