Thursday 28th of January 2021

hunting you down...

hunting you down...

Australia's coronavirus tracing app, dubbed COVIDSafe, has been released as the nation seeks to contain the spread of the deadly pandemic.

Key points:
  • The COVIDSafe app will be voluntary for Australians to download
  • It traces only contact with other people who have the COVIDSafe app on their phone
  • People risk five years in jail for illegally accessing the data collected


Smartphone users can download the app for iPhones and Android and will be able to register their information from 6:00pm AEST.

People who download the app will be asked to supply a name, which can be a pseudonym, their age range, a mobile number and post code.

Those who download the software will be notified if they have contact with another user who tests positive for coronavirus.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged the app as being essential for Australia to be able to ease coronavirus-induced restrictions across the country.

Using Bluetooth technology, the app "pings" or exchanges a "digital handshake" with another user when they come within 1.5 metres of each other, and then logs this contact and encrypts it.


Read more:

why is the white panel...

behind the woman looking like sanitary pad?




Lucky me, my phone is not a smart one... Just for incoming calls and emergencies...

you're on digital contact tracking...

Apple And Google Are Going To Track You (Even More) To Monitor COVID-19 Spread

Big tech volunteers to create platforms that facilitate digital contact tracing, but how will they protect private health data?


This is a rush transcript and may contain errors. It will be updated.


Kim Brown: Welcome to The Real News, I’m Kim Brown. Well, we reached a point in the pandemic where state and local officials have mandated that people cannot gather in large groups, where wearing protected gear to go to the grocery store is now required. However, the government along with big technology can and likely will take further action to track the spread of the coronavirus, but at what cost to your personal liberties and to your constitutional rights and will they be eroded to such a point in which we won’t be able to recover.


Well, to join us today to talk about this more is Rachel Levinson-Waldman. Rachel is a senior counsel to the Brennan Center’s Liberty & National Security Program. She’s active on issues related to policing and technology. Looking forward to our conversation today. Rachel, thank you so much for being here.Rachel Levinson…: Thanks for having me.Kim Brown: Rachel, there’s a lot of different directions in which we can take this conversation, but I wanted to start out first discussing the announcement from Apple and Google saying that they will work closely with the federal government in order to develop a software technology to go on smart phones, sounds a lot like a tracking app, in order to determine whether or not people have become infected or come in contact with persons who have been infected with coronavirus.

And this is a method that is being employed in South Korea and in China to measurable effect where people have been able to use their cell phone data, not just people, but the federal government and public health agencies to determine contact tracing via technology. I’m curious about your thoughts, how that would look and what that would look like in a nation of over 300 million people like the United States?Rachel Levinson…: Yeah, yeah. The proposal that Google and Apple have put out is really interesting and it does share similarities with what we’re seeing in other countries, but it’s not identical. In some ways, it’s a little more similar to an app that’s being tested out in Singapore, although there’s also sort of some cautionary aspects coming from Singapore that are worth looking at.

Basically, the way this sort of program would work, what Google and Apple has said that is that they’re building a platform for other developers to build apps on top of, and it’s not quite a location tracking app. Really what it is is a proximity tracking. The idea would be that you’re out in public, you have your phone with you, right. Most people who have phone, who have smart phones are carrying them around with them, and that phone is kind of periodically beaming out a random number that the phone knows is identified with itself. But it’s not your phone number, it’s not some other kind of identifiable phone number. And when it comes in proximity to another person’s phone, your phone beams your number to that phone, that phone beams its number back, and you sort of get these little records of phones that were near each other.

Those numbers are shared into some kind of centralized database. And if some point I discover that I’ve tested positive for coronavirus or maybe that due to kind of a combination of symptoms, a healthcare provider thinks that it’s quite likely that I have coronavirus, I would upload that information into the app, and there are some differences in terms of how that could work. And that then knows, okay, this number or this series of numbers is associated with somebody who tested positive.

I’m going to upload that information into the centralized database and then all these other phones out there can check and see, “Okay, I know I’ve been in proximity to 20 different phones that have these different random phone numbers. Let’s see if any of them has recorded in that it’s associated with somebody who tested positive for coronavirus.” Then somebody on the other end knows, they don’t know who I am, they don’t know when it was, they don’t know more information then within the last, say, 14 days you have been in a certain proximity, a certain close proximity to somebody who has now tested positive.

And one of the things under discussion is what exactly would that proximity be? Is it six feet since that’s sort of been what the CDC has said that’s kind of the main like zone of danger. Would it have to be for a certain amount of time? Presumably, yes, and I think that’s one of the things that Google and Apple have talked about, right? If you walk by somebody who turns out later to have tested positive, there may be some extremely small chance, especially in enclosed space that they could have transmitted it, but it’s a fairly low risk. On the other hand, if you spent more time near somebody, so basically they’ve had more of a chance to breathe on you or to cough on you or sneeze on you in close proximity, there is then a higher risk that they would have transmitted it to you and you would want to know that information and be able to self-isolate.Kim Brown: That sounds a little off to me in the sense that I don’t know how that would work in a country like the United States where testing has been so limited, where so far we’ve only had 1% of the population be tested for coronavirus as opposed to South Korea where testing was free and widely available and a majority of the population was able to know what their status was in a relatively short amount of time.

But my question here would be, well, if I’m uploading my phone number in data up to a third-party app so to speak, who’s building a platform on Apple or Google, how long do they keep my information? If I do test positive for coronavirus, is this particular developer going to know in perpetuity or as long as I have my cell phone number that I was someone who once contacted or contracted this virus?

Rachel Levinson…: Yeah, I think those are all really good questions and I think there are sort of a few threads there to pull on. One them, the issue that you mentioned at the beginning, right, is the incredible dearth of testing in this country, right? There aren’t nearly enough tests. We aren’t doing enough tests per day. At this point, a lot of people who know or believe that they’ve contracted coronavirus basically know that because of sort of a combination of symptoms, right? But they might not have gotten a test. A healthcare provider might have said, “Okay, you have a cough, you have a fever, maybe you’ve lost your sense of smell.” We can assume you’ve gotten coronavirus, but they’re not getting additional tests.

For any kind of contact tracing, right, whether it’s as kind of electronically or technologically-driven contact tracing or the more classic kind of public health contact tracing where you find out somebody has gotten communicable disease, you’re calling people, it is all dependent on accurate and widespread and quick testing. And to your point, we don’t have that, right? I think that is one huge issue.

Then the other issue that you brought up is this question of privacy, sort of the sensitivity of data that’s going to be shared, who’s going to have access to that data. And I think those are all really important questions in terms of evaluating whether it’s the model that Apple and Google are setting out. There are a couple of other consortiums, some academics who are coming up with similar sorts of proposals. There have also been conversations about something that looks more like location tracking rather than just proximity tracking.

And for any of those, once you have some showing of effectiveness, which I think does in part depend upon testing and also enough people downloading this app, right? You have to have a pretty, pretty broad percentage of the population downloading it to have any kind of utility come out of knowing who you’re close to. They have to have the app downloaded as well, but then these questions around protections for data, right? Whom is it being shared with? How long is it being saved for and whom else is it being shared with? In general, if you do test positive, right, the health department is going to know that, right? A health care provider will report that, so it isn’t necessarily information that is going to say stay entirely private to you anyway.

This is the kind of health data that is going to be shared out in some circumstances, but that is different from, is it going to be shared with a provider? Is it going to be shared with a big tech company? Is it going to be shared with the government beyond the health department that needs to know it for public health purposes, right? Is it being shared out with law enforcement, anything else like that? And so I think those are things for which there need to be really strict guidelines in place in order to have the kind of trust, the kind of oversight, the kind of transparency you would want to see to motivate people to use this tool, to have it be effective and to not have it have sort of negative downstream consequences.

Kim Brown: I’m imagining a time when we are downloading perhaps one of these newer apps that tracks to specific information. And when you agree to the terms of service, could you possibly be agreeing to a HIPAA waiver of your healthcare information to go to a tech company? I mean that’s a little mind boggling in that train of thought.

But I wanted to ask some other questions to you, Rachel, because we’ve seen recently a lot of pushback from protestors, mostly conservatives, seemingly Trump supporters. The big one was in Michigan on Thursday in Lansing, where protesters were very vocal about wanting the state to reopen, wanting to be economy to reopen. There’s been a very uneven, haphazard approach to how each state has handled the pandemic with a number of states sheltering in place, making stay-at-home orders and other states not doing that. There’s a number of states that have not had any shelter in place orders. And from what I understand, the beaches have reopened in Florida again.

In terms of restricting people’s ability to move freely, are we seeing an overreach in what state officials, mayors, county executives, governors have been able to mandate to people to the extent it restricts them in ways in which they feel is that they have to speak out in protest?

Rachel Levinson…: Look, I am a huge proponent for civil liberties, right? The ability to protest, the ability to gather together, the rights of association, these are really core fundamental American values. We are also in the middle of a global pandemic that threatens people, threatens their livelihoods, threatens their health and safety and that of their families, threatens the ability of sort of our country and the world too keep functioning, to continue functioning.

If there were an order that said absolutely no protests under any circumstances, even if you’re standing six feet or more apart, that I would think is really problematic, right. That really feels like a pretext, a way to use the health crisis to crack down on protest. I do not have an issue with… There’ve been a variety of names, right? Whether it’s a stay-at-home order or a shelter-in-place order, we are always talking about balancing, right. You balance sort of a different equities, and often it’s with an eye towards how are we all able to sort of move forward collectively?

I think this is a circumstance under which I certainly wouldn’t want to see. There are kinds of things, there are kinds of restrictions that couldn’t be put in place in this country, right? You couldn’t say for instance, you are literally not allowed to leave your neighborhood, right? We have declared this neighborhood a quarantine area you can’t leave, right? That might be a kind of order that could be in place in other countries, couldn’t be here.

On the other hand, there could be a quarantine order, right? If you have actually personally tested positive, you could be under quarantine in order not to leave your house. And I think it’s quite reasonable given what we know about coronavirus and giving the long-lasting effects is going to have. If we don’t have measures in place now, we will not be able to gather together to associate, to protest, to rally anything like that potentially for at least a year or two down the line. I think it’s shortsighted to see this as, “Well, stay-at-home orders are kind of preventing my right to gather together with a lot of people and protest.” Because at this point, I think the health consequences of doing that are going to be far more severe.

Kim Brown: President Donald Trump tweeted recently, I believe it was Friday morning, “Defend Michigan, defend Minnesota-

Rachel Levinson…: Liberate, I think. “Liberty them.”



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don't sneeze. a drone is spying on you...

If you don't feel comfortable signing up to the Government's COVIDSafe tracking app, then you probably won't be happy to hear about the pandemic drone.


Key points:
  • New technology is making mass tracking of people and their health easier
  • A pandemic drone can pick up heart rate, body temperature and monitor social distancing
  • But the technology is also increasing concerns about privacy and data collection


Software being developed at the University of South Australia in conjunction with Canadian drone manufacturer Draganfly could see drones used to monitor the health of people, including spotting sneezes and tracking whether they have a fever.

It is just one way technology could be used to track and slow the spread of a virus like COVID-19.

But experts warn that new surveillance technologies must include privacy safeguards before they are adopted.


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not working yet, due tweaking of the privacy rules...

More than 4 million people have downloaded the COVIDSafe app, but the system granting health authorities access to the information it collects is not yet operational.

Key points:

  • The app will not be fully functional until states and territories finalise data rules
  • More than 4 million Australians have downloaded the app already
  • App downloads will be a key discussion point when National Cabinet decides whether to ease restrictions

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called the app a vital tool in protecting Australians against coronavirus.

But the ABC has confirmed that if a person tests positive to coronavirus today, the information on the app will be of no use to health authorities because the states and territories are yet to finalise how the data can be used.

"The rules on privacy are being finalised, along with final IT testing," a Department of Health spokesman said.


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you need the covidsafe app like a hole in your privacy...

Millions more Australians will need to download the COVIDSafe app before the federal government will consider significantly easing restrictions such as reopening pubs, the prime minister has suggested.

Scott Morrison has floated the tantalising prospect of allowing housebound citizens out for a beer as the date to consider easing restrictions was brought forward.

The national cabinet will now meet on Friday to decide on Australia-wide baseline restrictions with a view to reviving the economy.

Mr Morrison said Australia’s virus measures were tracking well, meeting 11 of the 15 conditions of the Pandemic Health Intelligence Plan which guides the relaxation of shutdown rules.

However one of the conditions that had not been met was the uptake rate of the contact tracing app.


Read more:


Yes a beer at the local pub would be nice, even if my preferred fuel is red ned... For beer it would have to be summer and sunny... But most of the pubs around here have either gone in receivership, or the kegs will need to be renewed... There could be such a rush on kegs that the beer could become watery, like the French bistros used to cut the wine with water in the 1950s, after the war...


See also: 

how bill gates became the major controller of your health...

me not surprised...

Lots of Work but Little Utility

Germans Disappointed by Coronavirus Tracking App

Officials touted it as an important weapon in the fight against the pandemic, but there have been numerous glitches and shortcomings with Germany's corona app. Some argue it does more harm than good.

On a June morning, an giant blue and red "C” logo was displayed in front of the Federal Press Office in Berlin, located on the Spree River in the heart of the capital. It was essentially the German government screaming for attention, and why not? Germany’s flagship project in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic was ready for prime time. Finally. "#Ichappmit,” a billboard read. "I’m using the app.”

Inside, five representatives of the German government and two board members from Deutsche Telekom and the software company SAP were on the stage, along with the president of Germany’s center for disease control, the Robert Koch Institute. They could easily have been mistaken for happy parents after a difficult birth.

Helga Braun, the head of Angela Merkel’s Chancellery and a member of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said that although it wasn’t the first, it was perhaps the "best” corona app available worldwide. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, likewise of the conservatives, praised the "first class” experts in the ministries. The CEO of Deutsche Telekom enthused that the app was a "rock star.”

The only person who seemed to be trying to manage expectations was German Health Minister Jens Spahn of the CDU. The app, he said, is "no panacea.” The sentence was a bit like the rip cord on a parachute. If expectations are kept low, you won’t hit the ground as hard if things go wrong.

That moment of euphoria was almost 100 days ago. Since then, more than 18 million people have downloaded the app, and it has been rated on the Apple and Google app stores with 4.4 and 3.1 out of five stars. The German government, for its part, considers it to be a great success.

"One Tool Among Many”

In fact, though, hopes that the virus might be contained using the app have given way to disillusionment. There is no longer any talk of the "very central building block” of pandemic management, as government spokesman Steffen Seibert described it even before the app’s launch. It has since become "one tool among many.”

But what has the app actually achieved? To what extent is it helping contain the pandemic?

It’s difficult to issue any kind of interim progress report due to a lack of solid data available. No one can say, for example, exactly how many smartphone users are actively using the app. "We currently assume that figure to be 14 million,” Deutsche Telekom responded when asked. The German Health Ministry, meanwhile, answered the same question with 17 to 18 million.

Comments on the internet suggest that many users are annoyed by the app and its strange error messages or confusing warnings. One customer recently asked in the App Store what the new error message "EN_Error” meant. One developer replied that it was an Apple problem. "Neither a reinstall nor restarting” the app would help, the developer wrote, but "sometimes the errors go away by themselves.”



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nothing to hide...

Australian intelligence agencies “incidentally” slurped up private data from the country’s much-touted COVIDSafe smartphone app, according to the their [sic] inspector-general, who nevertheless insisted no one’s privacy was violated.

At least one intelligence agency collected private data generated by the government’s COVIDSafe contact-tracing app during its first six months of use, the inspector-general of intelligence and security (IGIS) revealed on Monday, before attempting to reassure skittish Australians that “there is no evidence that any agency within IGIS jurisdiction has decrypted, accessed or used any COVID app data.”

However, IGIS acknowledged that further “inspection activities” would be underway to “verify data deletion” and confirm that the intelligence agencies had not, in fact, pawed through users’ supposedly private data. The body has also refused to reveal which of the six agencies it presides over actually did the collecting – hardly a confidence-inspiring move.

The data collection took place “in the course of the lawful collection of other data,” the IGIS explained, adding that such ‘collateral snooping’ was permitted under the nation’s Privacy Act. However, that same law requires agencies to delete the surplus data “as soon as practicable.”

Australians have been subject to some of the strictest Covid-19 control measures in the world, depending on which state they live in. They were urged to download the COVIDSafe app when it debuted in April, fueled by $70 million in taxpayer money – but the app has only detected 17 cases since its launch, working out to about $4.12 million spent to detect each case. 

The COVIDSafe app was promoted as “the only contact app approved by the Australian Government,” with the promise that “state and territory health officials can only access app information if someone tests positive and agrees to the information in their phone being uploaded.” Officials touted its supposedly privacy-friendly Bluetooth-based locating system, but users had to upload personal data like name, age, phone number, and postal code in order to use the app. 


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