'Completely voluntary' COVID-19 contact tracing app ready for Canadians to download

Health Canada’s COVID-19 contact tracing app goes live Friday

The voluntary app tells users if or when they have been in close contact with another user who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

The COVID Alert app became available for download on Friday.

The Canadian government said that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) were consulted to ensure the highest level of privacy for Canadians using the app.

In order to understand how the app works and to find out if anyone I've been in contact with has had COVID-19, I chose to download it.

If someone does get a positive covid-19 test - they will have to enter a specific code in order to send out a notification to other app users.

The prime minister stresses the app is completely voluntary and does not collect any personal information from you like your name, address or location.

It also "destroys" all anonymized data on the app after 14 days.

"As Ontario safely and gradually re-opens, we continue to take a digital-first approach to delivering simpler, faster, better services to support Ontarians, including the COVID Alert app, which will leverage technology to protect the health and safety of the people of Ontario", said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board.

A new app created to alert users if they have come into contact with someone who has tested for COVID-19 is now available and the provincial government says the more people who use the app the more effective it will be.

"I want to be clear - this app isn't mandatory".

"Canadians can opt to use this technology knowing it includes very significant privacy protections", the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Daniel Therrien, said.

"So please, everyone, please download the app and help do your part", Ford stated in the conference.

"While we have made good progress over the past few months, COVID-19 remains a very serious threat to the health of Canadians", Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

To meet the necessity and proportionality principle, both governments must monitor the app's implementation and effectiveness and independent oversight will be important to foster public trust. Codes that are "uploaded" to servers when someone reports a positive COVID-19 result are also deleted after 15 days, the app's privacy policy says. The app adopted by the federal government was a collaboration between Apple and Google, and the tech giants emphasized that they developed it with privacy and anonymity front and centre.

"This is again cause for modernizing our laws so that they effectively protect Canadian citizens". A Shopify volunteer team provided the original code, and BlackBerry helped with security reviews.



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