Folks in the UK, about the government’s contact tracing app made by folks from Vote Leave & GCHQ:

- Do not download it.
- Do not use it.
- Tell friends & family not to either.

This is a mass surveillance app. It won’t protect you. But it will create a very dangerous precedent.

@aral I'm going to call this tinfoil hat paranoia in the face of a very real and harmful disease.

I share your wider concerns about mass surveillance but it is an honest attempt at dealing with a fatal pandemic that is decimating population and economy alike.

Please consider the wider ramifications of "civil dissent" at this point in time.

@dch @aral even if you don’t think it’s a privacy problem, it is a problem that contact tracing apps 1. can’t logically work if you know even the first thing about the technology involved and basic statistics. 2. don’t work based on the evidence from countries that have tried. 3. are promoted under the dangerously false pretence that they somehow protect you from getting infected like a digital talisman or, as the Australian PM called it “sunscreen”.

@dch @aral it’s not an honest attempt to help anything. it’s an incompetent and impotent attempt to apply a technology solution to a non technology problem that will kill more people than it saves by giving people a false sense of security, and getting them to stop doing other measures that do work.

@dch @aral that all said, surveilance is besides the point. if enough people download the app, the government will take it as a signal to ease restrictions

"fatal pandemic that is decimating population and economy alike." What a bullshit: "fatal pandemic" which affects 0.045% of population 😁
And, of course, it's not a virus who disrupts your economy.

@dch I see that governments want too look like doing something, but contact tracing based on Bluetooth are near useless. They just don't know enough about the circumstances of a contact to be able to create a valid recommendation out of that. To quote Bruce Schneier, "This is just something governments want to do for the hell of it. To me, it's just techies doing techie things because they don't know what else to do."


@dch @aral their solution is based on false claims.
It doesn't solve what it proposing to solve.
It's just introducing a new mass surveiliance tool. That's why people opose it.

@paulfree14 @dch @aral I wish what Aral was saying was tinfoil hat, but regrettably it is not.

Contact tracing apps won't be very effective. There will be lots of false positives. Bluetooth doesn't detect windows or thin walls. Like all radio signals it will reflect off of some objects and surfaces. Many poorer people live in dense housing such that even if there are separating walls they may still be within bluetooth range. This will create a situation where scapegoating narratives "backed by the numbers" are easy to construct, and mob actions driven by combined fear of infection and economic motives should not be underestimated.

Keep the contact tracing human. Be polite and respectful when asking about contacts. Be skeptical of scapegoating narratives about subsections of the population. Technology cannot solve all problems. Especially this one.

@bob @paulfree14 @dch @aral

I routinely carry and use *two* mobile devices (one mostly acts as a modem for my car satnav); and have a habit of leaving both in the glove compartment of my car when I arrive at work. I am often parked 10 or more metres away from my office, lots of other people/vehicles go past (nearly all the businesses here are key industries)

Were I to install this app, it would surely just fill up with wrong/flawed data as it would trigger on people I don't even meet?

@vfrmedia @bob @paulfree14 @dch @aral Also many houses on streets have the public pavement right out front, so anyone passing by the window could be within bluetooth range of anyone inside. In the discussions so far on the topic of contact tracing apps nobody has mentioned things like this, which are bound to produce a lot of false positives.

@dch @aral I mean, the Snowden Affair happened, it's hardly tinfoil hat to acknowledge that the government illegally spies on its own citizens.
@dch @aral don't be an idiot. The state is always seeking any pretext to expand the scope of its powers. Yesterday it was "deadly terrorists" and today it's "deadly pandemic" but that fundamental reality has not changed. You offer no real argument as to why people should comply with this invasive tracking scheme other than "it is an honest attempt" to do something. Since when does somebody merely attempting to solve a problem justify going along with whatever harebrained solution they propose? Stop being a status quo apologist trying to shut down any attempt at independent critical thinking.
@hector @dch @aral

the alternative to contact tracing and lockdown is always wearing two-way N95 filters (filter in, filter out) else we're saying that old and immunocompromised people need to suffer so young and healthy people can get on with their lives.

i understand your concerns, but public health also matters.
@xj9 @aral @dch I've said it before and I'll say it again. "There is no alternative" is a mental trap.
@xj9 @aral @dch Taiwan has controlled the outbreak with amazing success without needing either lockdown or tracking apps. One new case in a day, only 439 in total.

But will the WHO tell you this? No, because according to them Taiwan does not exist.
@hector @aral @dch

let's copy them then, i'm guessing massive testing and everyone wears filter masks? this is assuming USA is capable of testing at that level.
@xj9 @hector @aral @dch Taiwan was also the first country to catch on to this because the head of their department of health was using an imageboard where people were memeing about a new SARSlike illness. Acting quickly is important.
@xj9 @aral @dch yes precisely because these are REAL measures that offer real medical data and not finicky, fearmongering apps that alert you whenever you may have existed within 6 feet of someone who later was sick or said they were sick. I agree with Bruce Schneier that digital technology is not a one size fits all solution to all issues. It's just make work for techies.
@hector @xj9 @aral @dch schneier is wrong because like with manual contact tracing, it may be extremely messy but it is still very useful.
@hector @xj9 @aral @dch

pressure from China

but then Taiwan's cases should be included in China's


@hector @aral these figures are similar to New Zealand. island nations and strict lockdown policies. UK went too slow and not strict enough but maybe now it’s looking ok. I’m really worried that people haven’t the discipline to stay masked, distant, and wash hands, to prevent further infections.

@dch @aral excuse me but why are you saying Taiwan had a "strict lockdown"? That's a blatant lie. Citation needed. It had nothing of the sort.

And why according to your logic can the population be trusted to behave in certain countries, but not others?
@hector @aral @dch

additionally, how many people are voluntarily making lifestyle changes to avoid spreading SARS-CoV-2? a free society cannot operate effectively without a highly educated population with access to accurate information. if people "just go on with their lives" lots of people will die for a completely preventable reason.
@xj9 @aral @dch @hector
the population is uninformed and uneducated as a consequence of the society it is within
societies that create this problem for themselves for the purposes of control *deserve* to collapse
I think we should tell people that staying in is the right thing, but I don't want to uphold the status quo only for more and more of this crap to happen
@xj9 @hector @aral @dch for the record I didn't say I was 100% opposed to it, but just that it's not a conspiracy theory that this data will be misused, because it will, because we have precedent.
@moonman @aral @dch @hector

if course it will, but other options need to be proposed. we do need to contain this thing as much as possible to avoid loss of life.
@xj9 @aral @dch @hector I guess they're too chicken to do it at the phone company level instead of as a voluntary app.
@moonman @xj9 @aral @dch @hector the occam's razor says that these applications are a mostly honest attempt at trying to help without making a privacy controversy. it would not be simple to implement something like this via phone company level either if you want to use the GPS chips

in europe more countries are more strict about how to handle people's data in general so the situation might seem very different in the US, UK, etc
@shpuld @aral @dch @hector @xj9 I'm not saying it's for spying. I'm saying spies will have access to the data.

>it would not be simple to implement something like this via phone company level either if you want to use the GPS chips

They don't want to admit it's already implemented.
@moonman @aral @dch @hector @xj9 even if there is such an implementation, the people in charge of epidemic control might not have access to that sort of information
@shpuld @moonman @aral @dch @hector @xj9 there's high risk of data leaking and abuse of privileges.

We've seen first one happening. I've seen second one happening, too.
@moonman @hj @aral @dch @hector @shpuld @xj9

let’s pretend that in 5 years we learn that none of our efforts did anything and that the death rate is super low like below .05% low. Will these measures we took have been worth the cost? Will they have been too much and spur a greater resistance to them the next time there’s a serious pandemic?
@moonman @aral @dch @hector @shpuld @xj9 being mandatory, ties with government implies legal action for non-compliance.

I can fuck up google services, turn off GPS, install cyanogenmod, install gentoo on my phone, install xposed to fake my position, carry other phone instead. There are multiple ways of working around most common surveillance especially on android. Literally "lmao nibba just leave your phone at home, just don't use google".

Shit being mandatory might have consequences of "if you have a phone you HAVE to install it, fail to comply would result in legal action", and "blocking your phone's GPS signal on purpose or tampering with system would result in legal action".

This is sort of shit russia pulls out already, where you have to use an app to get a qr code to fucking go outside and if you're outside and you don't have QR code you get fined.
@hj @moonman @aral @dch @hector @xj9 what was discussed here was the voluntary stuff in the west
@shpuld @aral @dch @hector @moonman @xj9 if it's voluntarily then yeah. Wasn't there some shit about google and apple working with governments to enforce it and probably install it automatically for everyone? :ttong:
@hj @aral @dch @hector @moonman @xj9 I think your imagination or rumors has filled half of that sentence, I don't know if they actually have done anything yet
@shpuld @aral @dch @hector @moonman @xj9 yeah because it's pretty much rumors and plans at this point as far as I understand.

Point is - if it's just an app that you can and "should" install but it's voluntary then sure, whatever, it's just like other apps or OS itself.

If it's something mandatory and enforced then yeah - it at least sounds orwelian and something tracer tong tried to warn us about.

we just have to wait and see.
@hj @shpuld @aral @dch @hector @xj9 google and apple are releasing an app that uses bluetooth to turn your phone into a beacon and receiver. They are working to incorporate it into the operating system on both phones so it does not require an app. it is supposed to be "opt-in".
@moonman @aral @dch @hector @shpuld @xj9 it being integrated into OS sounds extremely WEIRD and that does tickle my paranoia. Why don't they make an app instead? Especially if it's opt-in.

I can only imagine that they need to make an API for such feature for actual pandemic app to use. And probably also for facebook too and others while they're at it. Otherwise every app using bluetooth to scan would be bad.
@hj @aral @dch @hector @shpuld @xj9 they probably want to reduce friction of installing an app for the next pandemic.

you can read more about it here:
Show more
@xj9 @hector @aral @dch Personally I'm way more concerned about surveillance state stuff, a lot of which preceded this, as opposed to lockdowns and the like, since governments want things open to collect tax revenue and aren't going to keep lockdowns in place indefinitely for no good reason.

@aral It's deeply fucking insidious how private entities tied to Vote Leave, including so many data scientists / devs, keep worming their way into significant positions in this government

@aral same approach is followed in most of the countries. This pandemic has become an experimenting field for strengthening mass surveillance practices. In India, the govt. has launched an app called 'Aarogya Setu' and govt. is pushing it vehemently pushing it to all citizens.

@aral Same in France, probably many other coutries too

@aral because of Coronavirus in Bolivia, the official government questionnaire ask your name and personal data.
I think that is no good.

@aral I've seen this boosted a few times now...

Can you please point me to the evidence behind your claims?

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