Canadian authorities in talks about COVID-19 tracking apps

Originally published by The Wire Report
Author: Anja Karadeglija

Several of Canada’s cities and provinces, as well as the federal government, are in discussions about launching apps that would use location data to track exposure to COVID-19, researchers behind two projects say.

Various teams around the world have been working on developing apps to trace the potential spread of the virus — from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Oxford to Canadian research centres and independent app developers. Some governments, such as Ireland earlier this week, have already moved to implement them in response to the ongoing pandemic.

In Canada, separate projects are underway that would combine phone location data with positive COVID-19 diagnoses to notify individuals about potential exposure in what their creators say are privacy-friendly ways. Such apps would rely on data from health agencies and need the approval of authorities to be available in app stores.

Valérie Pisano, president and CEO of research centre MILA, created by the University of Montréal and McGill University, said the centre is working on an app that individuals would choose to download to their phones.

“That technology would allow the phone to record with whom you’re in contact as you go about your daily life,” such as going to the grocery store, dropping something off for a friend’s house or taking care of relatives, she outlined in a phone interview. “As you’re doing that, you’re at different degrees of contact with other individuals.”

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