Update: This says several U.S. states have rolled out contact tracing apps. Plus, Google and Apple just announced they are now rolling out contact tracing apps to all Android and iPhone phones over the next few weeks. There has been no controlled trial nor randomized controlled trial to judge their effectiveness or side effects. There is no evidence at this time that device-side, Bluetooth contact tracing apps will make a meaningful difference in Covid-19 spread- this is a population wide medical experiment.
The UK Bluetooth-based tracking app was rolled out in trial in May and was going to go nationwide almost immediately. As of August, its still in a trial phase. As I pointed out long ago, these Bluetooth tracking apps have so many problems they were unlikely to ever be used. (Note – some countries use network cell side tracking – and track locations of all phones, smart and dumb, all the time – and analyze the paths to find potential contacts. Many countries, like the U.S. and the EU cannot do this due to privacy laws.)
The app hasn’t been binned, although the government did change direction with their original app to instead use the Google/Apple system.
Countries that have used smart phone based apps, including Australia and Iceland, found they uncovered single digit potential contacts nationwide and were not an effective use of public health resources. France, for example, has found the app is largely useless.
Virginia has launched a Bluetooth-based app. But hardly anyone is using it – and the way it works, if 30% of all phone users have the app installed, it can catch up to 9% of potential contacts (not including the false positive and negative problems inherent in the Bluetooth technology).
Northern Ireland has launched an app. The media is impressed that it has had 300,000 downloads. But at that number, it can detect about 2.5% of potential contacts in the country due to … math.
Finally, the supposed privacy safeguards in the Apple-Google technology do not actually work on Android phones. Because of what Google does with Google Play Services, personally identifiable information is being collected.
Basically, Google has been caught red handed, lying once again about their alleged privacy of personal data.
The data shared includes long-term, unchangeable identifiers of the phone users, including their phone’s IP address, WiFi MAC address, International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, SIM serial number, phone number and Gmail address, as well as fine-grained data from other, potentially sensitive apps, such as banking, dating or health apps. This is data which, when considered together, has the potential to draw a very detailed map of our lives and activities.