Canadian Military Told to Download COVID Alert App Heading into the Fall

The Canadian military wants its troops to download COVID Alert heading into the fall, as collective action to “prevent a resurgence will be especially significant.”

On Wednesday, Deputy Minister Jody Thomas and General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff, issued a statement to troops, saying “One of many tangible actions we can take is to download the Government of Canada’s new COVID Alert app onto our devices—either personal or work-issued device. Both of us strongly encourage you to do so.”

Both officials reassured military members there are no security or privacy concerns related to the COVID Alert app, as it has been tested by the Assistant Deputy Minister (Information Management), Assistant Deputy Minister (Data, Innovation and Analytics), and Director Access to Information and Privacy with “no concerns”.

COVID Alert, which uses the Exposure Notification framework from Apple and Google, leverages Bluetooth in the background to exchange random codes between devices. It does not collect any personal information on users. Someone who tests positive for COVID-19 can choose to anonymously share their diagnosis within the app, by entering in a one-time key from local health officials.

“While use of the app is voluntary, for the sake of your continued health and safety we strongly encourage you and your friends and families, to download and use the app. By using the app as one of many risk mitigation measures, we can be a tremendous force for good,” explained Vance.

COVID Alert has been downloaded 2.2 million times and launched this week in Newfoundland and Labrador, and is pegged to support Saskatchewan later this month.

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