A new report from the Cybersecure Policy Exchange at Ryerson University found the majority of Canadians support using a mandatory contact tracing app to go to work or take public transit to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The Cybersecure Policy Exchange is a new initiative dedicated to advancing effective and innovative public policy in cybersecurity and digital privacy. The survey of 2,000 Canadians in mid-May found more than 50 per cent of people support making these apps mandatory in workplaces and public transit. Although, only one in four strongly support such an approach.
Support is somewhat lower (46 per cent) for retail or grocery stores making apps mandatory.
In contrast, opposition to landlords or condominiums making contact tracing apps mandatory (45 per cent) surpassed support (30 per cent).
Going forward, the Cybersecure Policy Exchange has five recommendations to ensure this new technology is well-designed and governed to protect Canadians’ security and privacy.
- Following privacy-by-design principles and using only Bluetooth technology, not location data;
- Using a decentralized approach by keeping contact data on Canadians’ individual devices;
- Only collecting, storing and using data that is necessary, including deleting data after no more than 30 days, limiting data use to public health uses only, and deleting the app after the pandemic is adequately contained;
- Ensuring the app is used on a voluntary basis only, and passing legislation to ensure that no public or private entities can make the app mandatory to access goods, services, employment or housing, especially considering one in four low-income Canadian households do not have a smartphone; and
- Being transparent and maintaining trust, in part through transparent procurement, publicly available source code, comprehensive independent reviews and ongoing oversight.
A review of contact tracing apps implemented in other jurisdictions indicates that no jurisdiction has yet to fully satisfy all these conditions, and should it choose to proceed, states the Cybersecure Policy Exchange.Canadian governments and institutions must ensure the highest standards of privacy and security.