Ask me about contact tracing apps once we’ve got adequate PPE for frontline workers, proper testing for anyone who needs it, and a population not teetering on the cliff edge of precarity. Then I’ll tell you what I think of your fucking app.

@aral but wait, my app tells you you might be infected because of that time you stopped next to a car on the red light!

@aral I was recently discussing this with a few friends (some of them work for Google and Apple). It was funny to see the divide. My main objection isn’t the API, or whether the proposed implementation is secure or anonymous; it’s not a matter of technology (which is the argument I see often from its defenders). If we normalise this sort of app, the next step is to add location because, you know, it’ll be more effective. And in a matter of years we’ll reach a point that we’ll regret.

@aral Also, are we naive enought o assume that once the pandemic is under control the API is going to be deleted from the Android/Google Play Services or iOS? There’s a lot of talk of adding it, but no talks of when or if it’s going to have an expiry date.

Knowing what NSLs are, I can't imagine US security services not having sent Google an Apple some, requiring backdoors.

G&A won't be allowed to argue or inform anyone (and might not even mind). Given that contact tracing is the US' favourite tool to distribute suspicion: if they ever get to use this API they will hold on to it.

It's probably shitty at both estimating infection risk or identifying suspects but they won't care.


@alfonsomunozpomer @aral

conclusion: Unless there watertight mathematical proof that the method doesn't leak data plus solid independent testing/analysis of the implementation, this is a very dangerous thing.

And that's before even discussing efficacy. It might be better than random guess, but I have a hard time imagining it would help much to properly contain the virus.

@alfonsomunozpomer @aral If the contact tracing apps were used strictly for a medical purpose and for a limited time during the pandemic, and any data destroyed afterwards then maybe I'd be ok with them. But the bottom line here in UK is that I just don't trust the government with that kind of personal data. I think they'll use it to create scapegoating narratives about "superspreaders", etc, because this sort of divisiveness is always the Conservatives main tactic to stay in power.

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