Albertans fear Big Brother as COVID tracing app is rolled out
May 15, 2020
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As the spread of the new coronavirus in Canada slows, the western province of Alberta has rolled out a digital-tracing tool to monitor outbreaks as quarantine restrictions ease. The hard part is convincing people to use it.
On May 1, Alberta launched Canada’s first smartphone app to trace and call people who have come into contact with an individual infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, so that they can isolate themselves and prevent further spread.
But so far, only about 165,000 Albertans, or less than four per cent of the population, have downloaded it, according to Reuters. By contrast, the Singapore app — the model for Alberta — has 1.4 million users, or almost 25 per cent of the population on the Southeast Asian island.
“We all know we need to increase the uptake,” Jia Hu, the medical officer for Alberta Health Services who is leading the rollout of the app, told Reuters. “People are scared of the government having their data. That’s why we made it as lean as possible.”
Alberta’s voluntary app, called ABTraceTogether, has not been running properly on iPhones. Though Hu said a fix is being worked on, it may not come until Apple and Google provide new technology in the coming days.