The COVID app

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Will you use a COVID app if offered?

  • Yes

    Votes: 3 33.3%
  • No

    Votes: 2 22.2%
  • Unsure

    Votes: 4 44.4%
  • Need more info

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    9
  • Poll closed .

Mendalla

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Ontario, with help from a couple of our big tech companies, has produced a COVID contact tracing app based on the platform created by Apple and Google. And the Feds have endorsed it as their preferred app so other provinces may adopt it as well. Of course, Alberta already has one based on a different code base.

Basically, the app uses your phone's Bluetooth radio to detect what other phones are nearby. If someone tests positive, any other phones detected by theirs within the past two weeks (or whatever it is set to, I forget) get an alert to self-isolate and get tested. It's a form of "peer to peer" so there's no central data store, minimizing privacy risks.

Downside is it's unenforceable. The lack of a central store means the government can't track people down to make sure they self-isolate and get tested.

Upside is that the greater privacy protection might improve the uptake.

What do you think? Good idea? Will you install it if your province offers it?
 

Mendalla

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The companies involved, by the way, are a group of volunteers from Shopify who helped with development and a team at Blackberry, who tested the security of the app (which is BlackBerry's bread and butter now that they are out of the device business).

Apple and Google were not directly involved, save that open source code they produced was the basis. They do not have access to any data from the app, nor does Shopify.
 

BetteTheRed

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I wouldn't use it unless I get a new phone. With my fatally flawed GPS, I'd be constantly alerting.
 

Mendalla

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I wouldn't use it unless I get a new phone. With my fatally flawed GPS, I'd be constantly alerting.
It doesn't use GPS. It uses Bluetooth (the technology that connects phones to car audio systems and wireless earbuds) to detect which phones are within a certain distance.

Bluetooth advertises itself and also scans for other Bluetooth devices advertising themselves making it ideal for determining who has been near who else.
 

ChemGal

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I'm using the AB one and have been for a while. I don't like the roll out of 2, I hope they combine them.
 

Mendalla

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I'm using the AB one and have been for a while. I don't like the roll out of 2, I hope they combine them.
Given that they use different code bases and Alberta's is more centralized, the more likely scenario is that Alberta pushes an "upgrade" that actually turns it into the other app. I am not sure combining them is an option.
 

ChemGal

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Given that they use different code bases and Alberta's is more centralized, the more likely scenario is that Alberta pushes an "upgrade" that actually turns it into the other app. I am not sure combining them is an option.
Yeah, that's what I mean, any combination of the resources, whether it's a switch over, or a recommendation to uninstall and get a new one.
I don't know why Canada just doesn't go with AB's with some upgrades, unless there's an issue with it. We've been using it for a while and from what I read, it's not that ON went with something provincial-government wise, it's that the Canada one is being rolled out to ON first.
 

Mendalla

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We've been using it for a while and from what I read, it's not that ON went with something provincial-government wise, it's that the Canada one is being rolled out to ON first.
My understanding is that Ontario led the project, not the Feds, and the Feds are piggybacking on it. Alberta's took some heat from privacy officials who seem happier with this one so that's likely why the Feds went for it.

Frankly, I would be loath to trust anything produced by Federal IT. My son's former roommate worked on the customs kiosks and app and says it's a real horror show.
 

BetteTheRed

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It uses Bluetooth (the technology that connects phones to car audio systems and wireless earbuds) to detect which phones are within a certain distance.
I get it, but if my phone doesn't know where it is most of the time, it doesn't reliably know my bluetooth speaker is?
 

ChemGal

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I get it, but if my phone doesn't know where it is most of the time, it doesn't reliably know my bluetooth speaker is?
It's not about where you are, it's about the proximity to others using bluetooth.

Imagine everyone you pass, you share contact information and the date. The where doesn't matter. If one of those people gets COVID-19 they then contact everyone they have info for within a particular date range.
 

ChemGal

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I want an added feature to the app - let me add Chemguy as a close contact - but if anyone else gets close I want my phone to start yelling get away from me. :LOL:
 

ChemGal

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Reading a bit of the local info, they keep mentioning inter-operational capability. The Alberta app is fine on my phone (android) besides the battery going a little quicker than usual. With iphones though, it doesn't just run in the background, so an 'update' where it is an entirely new app wouldn't be a bad thing, might get more to use it.

I think they should really should use the emergency contact thing to send out a link to all, if people don' have to go seeking it out, more may use it, here it's currently estimated at 5%.
 

Mendalla

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Apple has an annoying habit of not supporting various standards that Android and Windows developers can take for granted. Push notifications, for instance. The open standard used in Google and Microsoft browsers isn't supported on Apple devices so Xenforo's push notifications aren't usable by people with iDevices. And there is a new feature coming in the next release of Xenforo that is the same.
 

Mrs.Anteater

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My phone is too old, its not smart enough. It doesn’t even get those amber alerts or other alerts from the police/ government. Not planning to get a new phone.
 

Northwind

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At this point I doubt it. If I lived somewhere like Toronto, maybe.
 

Mendalla

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My phone is too old, its not smart enough. It doesn’t even get those amber alerts or other alerts from the police/ government. Not planning to get a new phone.
Those are done via text, which is fairly old tech. I thought even feature phones (ie. old style cell phones) could do that much. But, yeah, if you aren't getting those your phone probably doesn't have data on it.
 

BetteTheRed

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I have data, but never get alerts. I have an old pay-as-you-go plan on a very disadvantaged phone. My phone rarely knows where I live, varying between 12 13 14 and 16, occasionally the house behind me.
 

Carolla

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I have made a point of NOT having a data plan on my phone - so would it work with mine? It does have bluetooth.

So I'm way out of the loop on these sorts of things - but I'm going to ask. Am I understanding correctly then that my phone would keep a log of all other bluetooth #s within its range over a specific time interval? Where would this get stored in my phone, if its not central? So if I then tested +ve at some point - is it up to me to tell my phone to message everyone in the log? How does that happen confidentially?

Ontario's former privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian said she's very impressed & has NO privacy concerns with the ON app! That must be a first!
 

ChemGal

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I have made a point of NOT having a data plan on my phone - so would it work with mine? It does have bluetooth.

So I'm way out of the loop on these sorts of things - but I'm going to ask. Am I understanding correctly then that my phone would keep a log of all other bluetooth #s within its range over a specific time interval? Where would this get stored in my phone, if its not central? So if I then tested +ve at some point - is it up to me to tell my phone to message everyone in the log? How does that happen confidentially?

Ontario's former privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian said she's very impressed & has NO privacy concerns with the ON app! That must be a first!
I think for data it would just be the initial downloads and then updates which could be done when connected to wifi.
Yes, if you test positive, you have to choose to let those you've been in contact with be contacted. No information about you is provided to everyone else, the message just goes to those who meet the criteria, ie. your bluetooth connected with their bluetooth for long enough.

This is the info for the app here - ABTraceTogether
 

Mendalla

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ie. your bluetooth connected with their bluetooth for long enough.
To be clear, the Bluetooth won't even be connecting. When activated Bluetooth constantly scans for possible devices to connect to. If you actually go into the Bluetooth settings on your phone, you can see the list it generates and choose to connect to one of them. The app will be storing that list and its changes, not actually connecting to anything on it.
 
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