Tracing apps for COVID-19 must go viral to function. This could be a problem

Tracing apps for COVID-19 must go viral to function. This could be a problem - Covid 19 app contact tracing 1024x576To be useful, any tracing app for COVID-19 must go viral, but with privacy concerns on the rise, getting a large-scale, voluntarily adopted contact tracking app is a problematic issue.

Solution still in its early stages

Governments around the world are evaluating several projects that improve citizens' privacy, with some claiming that the app would initially be voluntary, but do not rule out making it mandatory.

Meanwhile, we are seeing a digital divide between centralized and decentralized approaches. “I honestly think a relatively small number of people will install the app. We don't want to live in a world where we have to have an app on our phone to go out, ”said Harry Halpin, CEO of privacy startup Nym Technologies.

Studies on the regulation of privacy and technological incentives in the context of health information exchanges (HIE) only show that the United States say that the incentives combined with the consent requirements have seen a net increase in operational HIEs.

The tracking app as a necessary requirement to access public places

If only one in six people use the app, it is of no use to anyone; So how to get people to forget their privacy concerns and keep Bluetooth on, asked David Birch, author and director of Consult Hyperion.

Of course, it will be difficult to make people rationally understand the importance of spreading and using the app. But making the app a requirement for accessing certain public places takes precedence in so-called implicit consent laws, such as accepting sample alcohol tests, when obtaining a driver's license.

It is possible to imagine that food stores, schools and universities require the installation of a contact tracking app as a prerequisite for entry. It is worth mentioning that the Estonian government - which successfully implemented a digital identity scheme for 98% of its population - invited people to sign up by telling them that digital citizenship led to free use of the bus.

The usefulness of tracking contacts

As a food for thought, Consult Hyperion's Birch, an authority on digital identity, suggested some new ways to get more people to use a COVID-19 tracking app. "What if the contact tracking APIs could facilitate other useful purposes?" said Birch.

“For example, what if I could send a message to the people who were at a concert with you last night? I mean half a dozen other fans around you, without having access to their real names and addresses. ”

"If that interface could be provided in an environment optimized for privacy, it would be possible for other people to find intelligent applications of that function, which would make it useful and therefore people would be incentivized to download and use it," he said. "And a happy by-product would be that the contact track worked and fewer people would be in danger."