Red Deer resident Erich Jonas says he will not be downloading ABTraceTogether app on his smartphone. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Majority of central Albertans likely not to download COVID-19 tracing app

Most central Albertans will not be downloading Alberta’s tracing app.

Red Deer resident Erich Jonas is one of them.

He said as a smartphone user, he understands big companies such as Google and Apple track their users.

“Google maps already knows where I am,” he said. “But I’m not going to make the effort to give the information to them.”

Advocate Facebook users shared their thoughts, mostly not in favour of the app. One user said she has “very few apps with data location turned on.”

“I will not be adding anything that tracks me,” she added.

Another user said the provincial government is not to be trusted.

“I don’t trust the UCP government with any of my information,” the user said.

Another Facebook user who was in favour of the tool, asked the question why not?

“Anyone who could access this information already has it anyway. This just means you allow them to trace you for these purposes.

“It would be nice to know if I’ve come into contact with someone who is positive. It’s a great resource to track,” the user explained.

Another person said he delivers food.

“So my list of potential contacts is pretty long. There’d be no other way to narrow it down if I became infected,” he said.

The use of the technology, and the information the apps gather, has become a subject of debate in Canada.

“When we develop these sorts of tools or applications, we’re entering into a totally new class, or form of surveillance,” said Christopher Parsons, a senior research associate at Citizen Lab, part of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Policy.

“We’ve never had that level of surveillance in this country.”

Parsons, whose research focuses on data privacy and security, said governments may have good intentions, but they need to be prepared for the long-term implications of collecting such data.

“If the government doesn’t communicate what government organizations can or can’t collect with any kind of tracing application, it will almost certainly disenfranchise individuals,” he said.

Alberta’s app is intended to enhance current manual contact tracing and capacity, and facilitate early detection to help reduce the spread of the virus and better protect Albertans, says thegovernment.

“It means Albertans will be contacted more quickly if they are at risk.”

Use of the app is voluntary.

The app reportedly does not track the user’s location and does not use GPS.

As of Sunday, the app had 155,191 registered users.

With files from The Canadian Press



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

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