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Opinion : Is contact tracing for Covid-19 using mobile phones a good idea?

| May 12, 2020


As everyone probably knows a ‘contract tracing app’ for mobile phones is being developed to help combat the spread of the dreaded virus.

In this modern world the youngsters and technologically literate in society seem to love having the newfangled appliances (or apps) on their phones. So surely there will be a great take up once the contact tracing app is released?

Well, it seems there is a great debate focused around the privacy of the new app being developed for use in the UK.

Rather than relying on a propriety app from the phone manufacturers it seem the powers that be in the UK are looking to create their own with a centralised database so they could potentially analyse the movements and contacts of everyone recorded in the base of data leading to potential questions over privacy.

Of course Governments like to keep tabs on their citizens to make sure they are all being good boys and girls. As the data is held centrally we would never know what purposes the contact tracings had been put to.

A friend of mine phoned me recently and we chatted about their concerns with the phone app. It seems the app will track contacts by using some new fangled Blueteeth technology that uses a radio signal to detect other phones nearby.

So, if another phone comes into Blueteeth radio contact, typically within a range of about 11 yards, that is deemed to be a ‘contact’ and it is recorded.

The only problem is that a neighbour near to my friend has some rather strange visitors that arrive at all hours of the day including during the darkness in the early hours of the morning.

Now, its not for me to say what these visitors are up to but as it says in John 3:19 (WEB) ‘…. men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil.

It’s anybody’s guess whether they are selling drugs or perhaps the house is being used as a brothel. Whatever is going on there my friend would not what to have an app on their phone that is making contact with the phones of the suspected ‘customers’ arriving next door and for the contact information to be sent to the powers that be for them to analyse.

Consider my friend who lives close to a railway line. Quite often trains stop right at the bottom of my friends short garden due to a signal located nearby. Would the phones of the passengers on the train not connect with my friends phone thus creating thousands of false contacts?

My friend would not want a message appearing on their phone warning they may have Covid-19 just because the 7.53am to London was held at a red signal due to a late running service in front and one of the passengers happened to test positive for Covid a few days later.

Another of my friends has a bus stop outside their house. Would those waiting for the bus and the passengers on buses that stop outside not be counted a contacts if the phones link up?

But phones track us by default anyway don’t they?

Indeed a friend of mine was surprised to discover that the ‘map app’ on their phone had recorded everywhere they had been for the past few years. Apparently it does that unless the user turns the tracking feature off. Why can’t this data be used instead? Indeed it seems to based on the more accurate GPS system which has a higher precision of proximity. Indeed the contact tracing app used in Iceland called, Rakning C-19, uses GPS technology.

As for my good self, well, my portable telephone was made before the use of appliances became widespread so sadly my good self will have to pass over the ability to have the details of all those who are in contact with me sent to the powers that be for their perusal.

What do you think?

My blogs are published regularly here on the WycombeToday.com website.

You can also follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ivor.wycombe or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Ivor_Wycombe.

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