An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THERE ARE TWO KINDS of Canadians this week. Those who don’t trust the new COVID-19 tracker app, and those who are mad because they can’t get it.
The app announced by Justin Trudeau can be downloaded now — I did it — though it will come on stream only gradually across the country.
It ran into immediate criticism for not being available for older mobile phones with older technology. The Canadian Civil Liberties Union has even gotten involved, complaining that low-income folks won’t be able to use it.
On the other side of the argument are those who continue to be suspicious due to privacy concerns. But first of all, nobody says any of us has to use it. If we don’t like the idea, we can ignore it.
As a government website explains, the app doesn’t track a user’s location or collect any names, addresses or other personal information.
Technically, it’s not even a contact tracer. It simply tracks the location of phones that are in proximity to each other for more than 15 minutes. If an app user is diagnosed with COVID-19, he or she can register the fact, and the users of other phones that have been close by will be notified.
Yet about a quarter of Canadians say they’re “very unlikely” to use the app, which presents a problem, since it will be most effective if 75 to 80 per cent of us buy into it.
That, combined with the technology limitations, presents a real challenge for what was once regarded as an essential and effective step in defeating the virus.
Now the app is being publicized as simply another tool. If it’s just one more thing, and won’t really do much of a job, one wonders what the point is.
Justin Trudeau better tell the developers to come up with a version that works for everybody.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.