Exciting new technologies are in development that will help companies and individuals cope with the threat of the Coronavirus, but at what cost? Will people be willing to sacrifice privacy for the sake of safety. Can this technology be co-opted for other purposes? Is there any recourse or controls in place? Is the new Apple-Google COVID19 tracking system simply too invasive to be tolerable or are the benefits worth the cost?
What is contact tracking?
Contract tracking is software that can reveal who has been exposed to someone who is infected with the COVID-19 virus. People with smartphones (which is nearly everyone now) can be notified of their exposure and take precautions to prevent further spread of the virus, such as isolating themselves and carefully monitoring their health.
What are the disadvantages?
Not everyone is happy with this technology. After all, it monitors where you go and who you are with, and not everyone will be happy with that. Right now, you have to opt-in to being tracked, but can you turn it back off? Can it be made compulsory?
What is the potential for abuse?
As we saw firsthand with The Patriot Act, when you give up privacy “temporarily” for the common good, it’s challenging to get it back. The act has been renewed, mostly without review, for nearly twenty years with little public data on its effectiveness. Apple and Google are looking to build contact tracker technology into the next OS release. Once it’s in there, the chance of it being removed is minimal. It can be used for marketing, law enforcement, or political purposes, often without your consent.
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