Need an Expert? COVID-19 and contact tracing apps

Posted on Thursday, June 18, 2020

A person holding a cell phone

Prime Minister Trudeau announced today that Ontario will start testing a new COVID-19 contact tracing app, which will be made available nationwide in July. Shall we all download it?

Members of the media may directly contact the following experts:

Teresa Scassa (English and French)
Canada Research Chair in Information Law and Policy and Full Professor

Here are a few questions to ponder about the app:

“Is the design of this app sufficient to allay privacy concerns? Are there issues beyond privacy (such as ethics and human rights) that should be considered in the choice and deployment of a contact tracing app? Is a contact tracing app likely to be effective? What impact does the choice of a 'national' contact tracing app have on Alberta's already-launched contact tracing app, as well as announced plans in Quebec to adopt their own app?”

Karen Eltis (English and French)
Associate professor, Faculty of Law

“The idea of tracing infected individuals is ‘attractive in the short term’, but the risks of slippage are great, especially in these exceptional times.”

“There are no bad intentions. There are good intentions, as far as I can see. The difficulty with technology is that the consequences are always unintended.”

“The illusory character of consent in the digital age is also important. This is often premised on "consent" but this legal scaffolding is thrown into question in the digital age.”

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