Federal government explores next-gen Covid Alert app with increased data collection


During a Health Canada audit of the failure of the Trudeau government’s Covid Alert app, federal officials pondered how to “ensure the successful development” of a next-generation contact tracing app for the future.

The audit titled Evaluation of the National COVID-19 Exposure Notification App was conducted by the Office of Audit and Evaluation of Health Canada (PHAC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“The assessment examined a number of data sources, including document reviews and public opinion research (POR) and interviews with internal and external key informants,” the government auditors wrote.

“As a result, a few lessons learned have emerged that should be considered to ensure the successful development and launch of a similar application by the Government of Canada in the future.

Ottawa pulled the $20 million contact tracing program on June 17, 2022 after Canadians refused to use the app. Despite 6.89 million downloads, Canadians only activated 57,704 user keys, which is only 0.001% of the population.

Following Covid Alert, only 2,446 confirmed cases of the virus have been identified.

Despite the heinous usage statistics, the federal government wants to speed up the collection of data for public health purposes while maintaining privacy.

“While keeping privacy at the heart of app design, explore options to increase the ability to collect data, including personal information, to aid public health measures,” the listeners explained.

“Any discussion about the collection of personal information would benefit from the early engagement of internal privacy experts and (the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.)”

The audit notes that privacy was the main concern of Canadians who refused to use the app.

“Trust in government is also clearly a problem. When asked if they believe the government does not collect their personal information and allow the (Government of Canada) to determine their location, more than half (52%) of survey respondents didn’t believe the government,” the audit read said.

Earlier this year, PHAC was forced to suspend a mass data collection program after it was revealed the agency was spying on 33 million Canadians’ mobile devices without their knowledge.

Journalist and senior researcher

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