Privacy Commissioners Call for COVID-19 Contact Tracing Apps to Respect Privacy

Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, Daniel Therrien, issued a joint statement today with provincial and territorial counterparts to ensure COVID-19 contact tracing apps to respect user privacy.

“If done properly, tracing applications can achieve both privacy and public health goals at the same time. Everything hinges on design, and appropriate design depends on respect for certain key privacy principles, “ said Commissioner Therrien.

Some principles being called for include apps being voluntary in nature, personal information being used for public health purposes only, plus de-identified or aggregate data collection when possible.

“Commissioners felt it important to issue a common statement to Canadians because these applications raise important privacy risks. While applicable privacy laws must be observed, some of them do not provide an effective level of protection suited to the digital environment, as was highlighted in a joint resolution last fall,” read the joint statement.

Apple and Google are set to publicly release their opt-in COVID-19 contact tracing tool for health authorities, while recently the government of Alberta launched its own contact tracing app, which for iOS users, awkwardly requires users to keep the app open at all times.

Will you be enabling COVID-19 contact tracing apps?