July 8, 2020
The Government of Canada has announced that it is ready to launch a new COVID-19 contact tracing app in early July. The made-in-Canada app, referred to as COVID Alert, was designed by Canadian and Ontario Digital Service in collaboration with volunteers from Shopify and Blackberry.
In response to privacy and security concerns, Prime Minister Trudeau has highlighted that the new app will not store or share any personal information or GPS-location data, but will instead use randomly generated, anonymous codes and Bluetooth signals between phones that have downloaded the app to keep track of the proximity and duration of contact between users. The Prime Minister has also indicated that the government worked closely with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, BlackBerry, and Shopify to ensure that the data remains private and anonymous.
If a user tests positive for COVID-19, all users that have had prolonged, close contact with that individual will receive a notification and be asked to contact local health authorities. Although the use of COVID Alert will be voluntary, Prime Minister Trudeau has strongly encouraged Canadians to make use of the new app, emphasizing that it will be more effective if it is widely downloaded. It is estimated that approximately 30 million smart phones will be able to access and download the app.
COVID Alert will first be available in Ontario, before becoming available nationwide in the coming weeks. Although each province and territory will be able to customize the app, it will operate as one single application across domestic borders.
Author: Brittni Tee