OP-ED: Does Electronic Contact Tracing Compromise Your Privacy?
By Gary Peterson, PCP, Washington County
The answer to the question of whether Electronic Contact Tracing compromises your personal data is: it depends. A Centralized Data Model (CDM) puts your privacy at risk, but a Decentralized Data Model (DDM) protects your privacy.
What’s the difference?
A CDM uses your device’s info to track your contacts and location and the data is stored in the cloud which can be traced back to you.
A DDM uses a unique code on your device to share with other devices that it comes in contact with; there is nothing that tracks the unique code to either your phone or personal data.
It, your device, keeps all the codes it came in contact with for 14 days. If someone reports that they have a virus, in this case COVID-19, their device code is posted in the cloud; when your device checks the cloud for codes reported it will check all the unique codes stored on it (your device, locally) and notify you if you have come in contact with someone that has the virus. It is up to you to self-quarantine and get tested. There is no way to track where or who you encountered.
The DDM was made possible by a joint venture between Google and Apple. They did not develop an application, only the capability to implement it. They are providing this capability for free to governments to develop their own application. But, like everything else, this is politicized, The current federal administration has – once again – chosen not to lead, but rather to leave this choice up to the States to decide if they are going to adopt the technology and develop an application.
As of July 13th only 3 States have committed to make the DDM from Apple and Google available to their residents and they’re Red States.
I’m disappointed with my home state of Oregon’s leadership for not committing one way or the other yet.
If contact tracing is so important to controlling COVID-19 why wouldn’t every state make this available to their citizens?
For more information, see:
- 9to5mas.com (they’re tracking which states adopt and implement the technology)
- CNBC 2020/07/03 “Why coronavirus contact-tracing apps haven’t been a ‘gamechanger’ authorities hoped they’d be”
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