Smartphone app to track COVID-19 concerns privacy watchdogs

Smartphone

Privacy watchdogs are voicing concerns over proposals across the country to implement smartphone apps to help track COVID-19 infections.

Four provinces are looking at or planning on creating smartphone apps that would allow it to follow a user and help health officials trace contacts.

Alberta became the first in the country to launch a contact tracing app yesterday.

Christopher Parsons, a researcher at the University of Toronto, says governments need to make long-term plans for how the collected data will be used.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association agrees, saying it wants independent oversight of the data.

However, Dr. Peter Phillips, an infectious disease expert from the University of British Columbia, says the public needs to balance their privacy with the substantial benefits of the apps for public health.

Geoffrey Rotstein's company, E-Q Works, is creating a contact tracing app, and says it's working to balance privacy concerns by keeping a user's data stored on their phone, not a server.