Premier Doug Ford announced the release of Canada's new COVID-19 tracing app in Ontario on Friday. The federal government worked with Apple and Google on the technology underlying the app.
Users who download the province's COVID Alert app will receive notification if they have been in close proximity to other users who have tested positive for COVID-19.
The product says no personal data will be collected.
- If you're now near someone who was previously diagnosedAccording to the app's description, provincial and territorial governments are working to support COVID Alert across Canada, and in some places, people can't yet report a COVID-19 diagnosis.
"We know other provinces will be joining in soon", Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, encouraging people across the country to download the app right away.
Several U.S. states are working on apps that use the API, including Alabama, North Dakota, and SC, but no contact tracing apps that take advantage of the tool have been released in the United States to date.
The app is created to be fully effective if people have already been using it for at least two weeks before they test positive for COVID-19.
"Several times a day, "COVID Alert" checks a list of codes from people who tell the app they tested positive".
If a user tests positive for the coronavirus, they will receive a diagnosis key from a public health official to enter into the app.
"No one will know who you are or where you've been", the federal government said in a video.
Are there privacy concerns with Canada's new COVID-19 contact tracing app?
Ontario is being used as a trial bed before a nationwide roll-out.
"By making it easier for Ontarians to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities, we continue to deliver on our commitment to build a smarter government that works for you".
The privacy watchdogs assessed the app and were supportive of the voluntary nature, but cautioned that there is still a risk that third parties may seek users to disclose information related to their use of the app, and there are plans to continue to assess the app as more Canadians begin using it.
"I think they did a really good job".
"Now the key thing here is will enough Canadians download the app?"
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