Do Androids Dream Of Being Electric Sheep?


Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly shows of the HSE/Department of Health Covid-19 tracing app on his phone yesterday

This morning?

The CovidTracker Ireland app, which has been in development since late March at a cost of €850,000, went live on Monday night.


….it is the need for GPS location services to be enabled on phones using Google’s Android operating system in order for the app to work, a fact which only emerged after the application went live on Monday evening, that drew the most ire from privacy campaigners.

Android users currently represent roughly 39% of the Irish smartphone market, making it by some distance the dominant operating system here.

The HSE has stressed for two months that the app does not track location, with all elements of contact tracing operating under bluetooth ‘handshake’ functionality.

However, in order for the app’s exposure notification protocol to function on Android phones location services must be enabled so that a device’s bluetooth radio ‘beacons’ can be activated, with the app rendered useless without them.

Privacy concern over Covid tracing system (irish Examiner)


Anon writes:

The new app. has two Dublin locations: “North Country Dublin” and “South Country Dublin“. UK designers?

What a country.


Previously: Tracing App Report Card


39 thoughts on “Do Androids Dream Of Being Electric Sheep?

    1. Stephen

      Location permission is requested on Android as that is a requirement for the bluetooth scanning framework to work. Nothing the developers of the app could do about this, it’s just how it is on Android. The full source code is online and I don’t see anywhere in there that gps data is used.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Location services use GPS on modern Android phones, if you turn it on. If Bluetooth needs GPS turned on, then GPS data is used in the operation of the app. indirectly even?

      2. Sorprendido

        Google added the requirement to have location services permissions to be able to use bluetooth in Android 6ish:

        The reasoning they gave is that if an app that doesn’t have location permission picks up a signal from a fixed bluetooth beacon, the app would know roughly where in the world it is, so you need to explicitly allow the location permission.

        The app itself makes this clear, and also what the problem with it is:
        “This feature requires:
        Device location
        This setting is required to detect Bluetooth devices near you. However, COVID-19 exposure notifications don’t use device location.
        Other apps with location permission will have access to device location.”

        In short, you have to have the GPS turned on, which in turn gives up to date location info to every game, shopping list and video sharing app that you’d previously agreed to share location to and forgotten about. Now would be a good time to look through your list of installed apps and their permissions, and uninstall anything you don’t need, and revoke any location permissions that aren’t needed.

    2. Slightly Bemused

      I listened to one of the experts rolling it out yesterday, and they were (in the morning) clear that location services were not needed. Cian was correct as per available information at the time.
      Turns out we were both incorrect, and misinformation was given.

    3. Cian

      The app doesn’t use GPS.
      Even when ocation is switched on, the app doesn’t get GPS data.
      As Sorprendido said, this is an Android decision. Yes, the phone knows your location but doesn’t share it with the app.

      In fact, any app that uses the special Android COVID bluetooth finder is specifically *blocked* from being allowed to access either Location (GPS) or Bluetooth Admin.

  1. Joan Burton

    Man Who Uses WhatsApp, TikTok, Google Maps, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook & Twitter Apps Has Privacy Concerns About Covid-19 App as WWN succinctly put it !

    1. Micko

      While I think you’re correct.

      I think people feel that it’s an app from the government and them collect data on you is a bit different than a private company having your data.

      I can understand the paranoia.

      1. Cian

        Which is nonsensical since “the government” already knows pretty much everything about you.
        – Between Revenue and Social Welfare they know your financial status and address.
        – From passport and driving licence they have you photo and (again) address.
        – When you fly places the airline inform immigration and passport control.
        – From HSE/Welfare they know what medical issues you have.
        – if you open a bank account (anti-money laundering)

        Sure you can avoid all of these and live “off the grid”… but then you probably wouldn’t have a phone…

        1. Micko

          I’m not saying I do. I couldn’t give a crap. I won’t be downloading it anyway.

          I’m saying that a few folks that I’ve talked to are concerned about it. Mostly IT people too.

          And that I can understand that position, especially since what we’ve all been through the last few months.

          Been a weird time. ;-)

  2. AC

    Whats happening with the public services card? That story seems to have gone dead. I was concerned about that more than this app.

  3. Sergei

    That figure for Android market share can’t be right. 39% would be more like the portion of the market iOS has. Android would be around 60%.

    1. JEH

      Exactly. Outside of Android and iOS, you’re left with Huawei’s own OS, legacy Windows Mobile OS, Blackberry, and what else? Those combined can’t possibly account for more than 10% of the market share. I’d say Android has more market share than Apple, and the two combined are probably close to 90% of the overall “smart phone” market. If you included older devices like classic Nokia, etc, it might be a little smaller, but I can’t imagine there’s a ton of those knocking about.

  4. Toe Up

    “Android users currently represent roughly 39% of the Irish smartphone market, making it by some distance the dominant operating system here.”

    Ehm, I think the Examiner needs to show their workings here, as this sentence doesn’t really add up.

  5. ReproBertie

    Could any Android users who have downloaded it confirm that, though it needs access to the location services, it does not appear on the list of apps using location services?

  6. jamesjoist

    Yes , you need to turn on locations . That can be a fecking nuisance , your only in the door five minutes and you get a ‘ping ‘ and it’s a request for you to rate Bella Cohen’s brothel. Damn .

    1. Cian

      I wonder if the 850K is just the development or other services – like the advertising (I keep getting ads for it) and any support going forward (as in who will be making the phone-calls to do any followups)

      1. ReproBertie

        According to the Examiner a “ further €350,000-€400,000 per annum will be incurred in maintenance costs.”

    1. Denny

      Another waste of money near on a cool million it’s the ones that cannot be traced as they are not using the app which is the fly in the ointment

      Let’s just tag the whole population and be done with it

  7. f_lawless

    Call me cynical but it seems like the protection of Ireland’s commercial image as “Europe’s leading tech hub” might have been the primary driving factor rather than producing a realistic solution to protect Irish lives. “Just get the damn thing launched already. We can spoof about why it wasn’t effective somewhere down the line if needs be”.

  8. :-Joe

    The gurgle/CRAPple API partnership and app’s that use it is not designed or intended to be useful for covid19 track and trace, it’s part of a worldwide globalist move to normalise surveillance in the west, in (new world)order to compete with China’s advancing cabability in AI.

    Here’s some proof, only part of the puzzle obtained by FOI request by EPIC The Electronic privacy information centre.


    The playbook for converting the west, primarily ‘murica into chinese style digital authoritarianism for corporate competitiveness.
    (i.e. So already corrupt elite oligarchical f***’s get even more obscenely your expense.)

    Fourth industrial revolution.. Anyone?


    The new covid19 app is another scam. It won’t work and you’re making it all worse by downloading and using it.
    – Educate yourself and become Online / Digital / Internet, Privacy / Security, Civil & Human Rights.. literate just on the basics at least.. Or stay as you are, claiming ignorance and being part of the problem.

    :-J –

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