Smartphone apps and other technology could be a way to help governments monitor new coronavirus outbreaks, especially with more and more places reopening. But the head of a nonprofit that favors patients' privacy rights isn't a fan of this approach.
"I don't think at this moment you need to worry about being tracked by name or your contacts by name," says Twila Brase, president and co-founder of Citizens' Council for Health Freedom. "But I think that that is where the government, where some of the tech companies, and where some of the big funders of these initiatives want to take us – and that is the wrong way to go."
One issue with apps and other technology allowing people to be tracked is that users often sign off on the idea. Brase points out that people may not realize that buried in the terms of agreement for things are "greenlights" for the creator of the technology to, among other things, know a person's location and keep tabs where you go. This is one reason why, after leaving a business, people may get a request from an app asking them to review the place they just exited.
But the CCHF president does have some recommendations.
"I think it's important for us to watch our legislators to make sure that there is no prohibition on phones that don't allow tracking," Brase offers, adding: "It's important for people to start losing their dependence on trackable technology. For instance, people could leave their phones at home when they're going places where they know they're not going to have a hard time finding someone."
She also recommends purchasing no-contract cell phones with cash, so the phone isn't tied to a person and his or her whereabouts; and investigating different kinds of Internet browsers that won't allow tracking of every website visited.