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1/11: Why there are there two almost-opposite technical threads here, one saying "#covidsafeapp gathers so much LESS data than anything else on your phone," and another saying "this app gathers info that no other app on your phone collects"? The answer is that they're both true.
2/11: It's true that #covidsafepp doesn't do any of the usual nasties, e.g. GPS tracking or microphone surveillance. However, it builds an infrastructure for gathering a completely new kind of mass data: fine-grained detail about who was how close to whom, when.
3/11: Just as #covid19 is a new virus that will probably be with us forever, physical proximity data is a new form of data gathering whose implications will be lasting, and which we are only beginning to understand.
4/11: Some people don't care about the privacy of their face-to-face connections, but some care a lot: journalists protecting sources, LGBTIQ people from disapproving families, mainland Chinese students who sit with Hong Kong democracy activists... I'm sure you can think of more.
5/11: For these people (and maybe you'll become one of them even if you aren't now), the implementation details really matter. It's not just a question of whether to download the app we're given, it's also a question of whether contact tracing could be automated in a better way.
6/11: If you think about survivors of domestic abuse,

you see that the use of the app by others could have serious consequences even for people who aren't using it. It's what your phone might record, rather than what it sends, that causes the problem.
7/11: Germany recently decided to pivot from their centralized contact-tracing plan to a decentralized model. This means that people exposed to Covid19 will be notified directly using a mechanism appearing soon from Apple-Google, without any authority learning who was near whom.
8/11: There's a good chance the decentralised scheme will work a lot better on iPhones, on which both Tracetogether and #covidsafeapp struggle to work reliably, especially in background mode. (If it doesn't send its Bluetooth messages, it doesn't help you trace your contacts.)
9/11: The decentralized model is a big win for reducing the risk of government abuse or leaks of the data, but it's a lot less clear whether it solves the problem for other cases, e.g. an attacker who lives in your house or controls your phone. (I need to think about this more.)
10/11: I wish that #auspol could have a calm discussion about the best way to do automated contact tracing, based on accurate technical information and a clear understanding that not everyone's privacy needs are the same. I vote for a decentralised model. What do you think?
11/11: Before you tell me how many deaths I'm causing by raising privacy concerns, consider
a. that some people have a great need for contact privacy,
b. that there are ways of improving privacy for #covidsafeapp that are neutral, or even beneficial, for contact tracing. #auspol
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