Further to The Irish Examiner‘s front page story earlier that 564,000 people had deleted the HSE Covid-19 response app.
Nama Wine Lake tweetz:
A maximum of 1.17m people are using the Irish Covid19 tracking app.
When the app was launched, the Department of Health of Health said 60% of the population needed to use it for it to be effective (60% of 5m = 3m), though they later said 2.2m. So, we’re just 50% to the minimum needed.
Why have so many people deleted the app?
There were battery and overheating issues.There’s also privacy and the Dept of Social Protection banditry at Dublin Airport which is now to be formally investigated by the Data Protection Commissioner….
Yesterday’s The Guardian
So the Covid app – on Android – shares your IP address (a rough proxy for location), phone IMEI number, serial number, actual phone number, and email address with Google. Every 20 minutes https://t.co/4ynVIfHRI6 pic.twitter.com/Nhlk1v8ClV
— Cianan Brennan (@ciananbrennan) July 21, 2020
It depends on whether you let it or not. However, the Covid app cannot function without it. It's Google's call, not the HSE's
— Cianan Brennan (@ciananbrennan) July 21, 2020
Via The Irish Examiner:
Ireland’s Covid Tracker smartphone application is sharing information which could lead to location tracking with Google at least every 20 minutes, the Irish Examiner can reveal.
A new research paper released by the school of computer science and statistics at Trinity College Dublin details the information that is shared – which includes IP address, the handset’s IMEI (its unique identifier which can be used to block its usage), serial number, phone number, and email address – and describes the revelation as being “extremely troubling from a privacy viewpoint”.
The HSE had insisted that the app is completely anonymous and does not track location data.
However, the HSE only controls the public health side of the app, with the exposure notification segment being administered by both Google and Apple via their Google/Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN) service.
“The HSE has been celebrated in Ireland and beyond for their transparent approach to developing the Covid Tracker app,” said Elizabeth Farries, director of information rights with The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL.)
“However, Google Play Services represent a significant component of the app. Most people, even app developers, are unaware of this level of invasiveness,” she added.
It has also emerged that the HSE’s side of the app is collating information via the metrics it receives from users which could be used to link all requests sent from the same phone together, akin to a ‘cookie’ footprint left by a computer as it surfs the internet.
Previously: Hapless App
Part of The Report Card for the HSE/Department of Health Covid tracker app includes reference to Google Firebase and Twillo possibly obtaining patient data
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) have issued a report card evaluating the HSE/Department of Health Covid-19 tracker app prior to its launch.
How did it do?
Regarding the app’s efficacy, experts have given the app a D.
Dr Stephen Farrell, Research Fellow, School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin (speaking in a personal capacity, said:
“We have no clear evidence before us that the app accurately detects close contacts to Covid-19. In the alternative, our independent research shows that app signalling accuracy varies substantially depending on user environments.”
Regarding the app’s clear and limited purpose, experts have given the app a D.
ICCL’s Information Rights Director Elizabeth Farries said:
“European data protection guidance says Covid-19 apps must pursue a single purpose of contact tracing to alert people potentially exposed to Covid-19. Unfortunately, location data and symptom tracking extend beyond this single purpose.”
Regarding the app’s statutory oversight, experts have given the app a C.
Digital Rights Ireland Director Antóin Ó Lachtnáin said:
“We would question the legal basis of consent the government appears to be relying on under the GDPR. Furthermore, long term, we are very concerned that Google/Apple will have ultimate control over most of the EU’s Covid-19 app ecosystem, and not our governments.”
We’re not angry.
Full report card here.
No, I’m fine thanks. ZAZU is a new Irish-founded booking and payment app to help restaurants, bars, cafes, nightclubs and retail outlets reopen with virtually contactless service.
Ian Collins writes:
As government restrictions begin to ease, businesses are looking for ways to deal with the new normal of social distancing. The ZAZU service offers an all-in-one solution that is continuously updated and modified in line with government regulations.
The app offers functions similar to OpenTable, Deliveroo and Ticketmaster all under one roof from order to payment and delivery
The app also assists with capacity management ensuring government guidelines can be adhered to at all times.
A virtual queuing system is also helpful for those who haven’t planned ahead…they can join an online queuing system where they will be alerted once a space becomes available
….customers can wait in a comfortable and safe setting away from the location until they are alerted…
Irish-made stuff to firstname.lastname@example.org marked ‘Irish-Made Stuff’. No fee.
Today a mother told us she ordered a taxi with her shopping. During the ride the driver asked her if she was a COVID patient. She said no and he should her an alert that came up on his App with her name, address and said she was a COVID patient. She was never, but her child was.
— SPARK-Ireland (@SparkIreland) June 3, 2020
Hey, thanks for bringing this to our attention and I think this woman has been in touch. The note on the driver app was from a previous booking and wasn’t related to this woman or her family in anyway. We have no idea who has the virus unless we’re told prior to booking.
— Lynk Taxis & Delivery (@LynkTaxis) June 4, 2020
Minister for Health Simon Harris in the Dáil this evening
In the Dáil.
Health Minister Simon Harris responded to points made by Green Party TD Ossian Smyth.
During his contribution, Mr Smyth asked Mr Harris if he would support Google and Apple “in their announcement that they want to co-operate to produce an app that can help with contact tracing on the basis that it respects privacy”.
Mr Smyth also told Mr Harris that he wanted to see Ireland become prepared “for the next microbial pandemic after Covid” and asked the minister to create a “pandemic preparedness unit” or a “pandemic readiness unit” within the Department of Health.
In relation to the point about an app, Mr Harris said:
“On the issue of the app, I’m very supportive of the app. I think we really need an app. The HSE is at a very advanced stage, and my department, of launching one.
“I know we’ve been discussing with mobile phone operators…I know other companies are also thinking of it. It would involve people opting in. I think the Irish people would opt in though.
“I think they’d opt in in overwhelming numbers once they knew, you know, that the parameters in terms of their own data protection and the fact it could save their lives and the lives of their family…”
In relation to the point about a pandemic unit, Mr Harris said:
“In relation to preparing for future public health pandemics, I mean you’re right. Public health has been the poor relation of health in this country for a long time, for a really, really long time.
“The Department of Health has often been the department of illness, what do we do when somebody gets sick? Not only do we realise the real value of public health at a time like this, whether we go the road of establishing, like they have in the UK, Public Health England, as a separate stand-alone organisation? Or whether you look, as you suggested, a unit or something as part of the HSE?
“My one personal view is that it should be integrated as part of the health service, rather than setting up other bodies. But I’m open to discussions in this House.
“And sure maybe whoever forms the next Government can help us in that challenge.”
Earlier: Question Time [Updated]
Previously: The CovidTracker App And You
From top Daragh O’Brien of technology and data governance firm Castlebridge; Covid-19 tracing app in Singapore
Susan Mitchell and Aaron Rogan, in The Business Post, reported that members of the public will be asked to “opt into” a mobile phone tracking and tracing app by the HSE as part of its strategy against Covid-19.
The HSE has already been in contact with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner about the app.
The track and trace technology that the HSE plans to introduce will be facilitated by an opt-in mobile phone app that will allow people to be notified if they were in close proximity to confirmed cases.
Similar apps have been used in Singapore and South Korea, which have been held up as exemplars of how to successfully battle the coronavirus pandemic.
The apps help with contact tracing, which is the process of identifying those who have had close contact with infected individuals. Without technology, these efforts rely on the recall and memory of infected individuals.
Under plans being advanced by the HSE, phones with the app installed would exchange short-distance Bluetooth signals where users are near each other. Records of those encounters are then stored.
A senior health service source said the app would be free to use, and would operate on an “opt-in” basis. If a user is found to have the coronavirus, the app would allow the health service to notify other users of the app who have been in close contact with that individual by telephone.
…Castlebridge, a technology and data governance firm, has conducted research into the Singapore app in recent weeks.
Daragh O’Brien, managing director of the firm, said that there was merit to that model for Ireland which, he said did not record location data but instead used “Bluetooth signal strength to infer the distance between the two devices and how long the two devices are in close proximity to each other”.
It is entirely different with lots of extra things. My view: there are at least two apps here. One for contact tracing and another for isolation case management. And the idea of push notifications is bonkers without some additional context.
— Daragh O Brien (@CBridge_Chief) March 29, 2020