There has been plenty of discussion about the federal government’s CovidSAFE contact tracing app today. I won’t download it, but I respect the rights of others to do so if they want.
The app itself is relatively benign in the amount of information it gathers, but the model requiring a centralised database concerns me especially considering Apple/Google’s planned version doesn’t require a centralised database. My bigger concern is this is a first step in getting people to voluntarily sign up to full-time government tracking, and once people are conditioned to accept that (and plenty already are) it’s only a matter of time before the scope of such tracking will increase and become compulsory. Warrantless surveillance isn’t much further along the line once you sign up to tracking.
The “cure” is worse than the disease in this case. On principle I simply can’t voluntarily download this app.
There’s an argument that Facebook etc has more information about me than this app can get. This is true to an extent. I have some level of control over how much I share with them, I avoid using Google almost entirely, and I keep location services turned off in my phone when I’m not actively using it, which limits the ability for apps to track my movements (you would be amazed how many apps try to take location data every time you open them!) so I’m already opting out of various levels of corporate surveillance.
Paranoid? Sure! But it’s reasonable to be paranoid when there’s always someone or something that wants to watch. And my phone battery almost doesn’t hold a charge any more, but I can double my battery life with location services and Bluetooth switched off, so my paranoia brings practical benefits too.