An interim report on the government’s COVID Alert app is calling for the government to “expand” its data collection to find new ways to deploy the app.
First reported by Blacklock’s Reporter, an advisory council’s report on the use of the COVID Alert app highlighted how data collected by the app could be used for other government projects beyond contact tracing.
“The Government of Canada has begun to broadly consider how the COVID Alert app could potentially extend beyond a government service to Canadians and the public health systems towards a tool that will also support Canadians and businesses in our economic, social and mental health recovery and restoration,” the report reads.
According to the most recent figures, 6,537,346 devices downloaded the app, or less than 19% of all devices.
Adoption of the app was significantly below government goals, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying the government hoped it would be downloaded on 50% of all devices.
In an effort to allay privacy concerns, Trudeau previously stated Canadians could trust the app to be safe, secure, and anonymous.
“It’s something you can just download and forget about because it’s completely anonymous, because it’s low maintenance, because it is completely respectful of your privacy including no location services or geotagging of any sort, people can be confident.”
The report acknowledges there could be privacy concerns from using data from the app, adding the federal government should consider the consequences of betraying public trust.
“The Council wants to continue to be engaged in discussions on collection of data, particularly the viability of data collection given privacy considerations,” the report says.
“The Council has indicated the Government of Canada must continue to carefully consider the risks of public perception and trust from a privacy perspective when considering additional data collection,” it continues.
“The expected outcomes associated with additional data collection should be clearly articulated to ensure it outweighs the risk.”