But there really shouldn’t be.

So, my local county has decided to require a cell phone app for employees of “non-essential” businesses.

Ugh. Just, ugh.

First, this is exactly what I was saying is the wrong approach a few weeks ago in Don’t Get Comfortable: Privacy, Movement And Isolation:

  • it’s a corporate cloud-based app (created and operated by IBM), so it’s got all the privacy and trust issues a corporate project would have
  • but it’s _also_ feeding data into the government systems with no limits or oversight, so it’s got all the privacy and trust issues a government project would have

It’s the worst of both worlds.

So, congratulations on managing that at least. Not everyone can come up with an app that puts the worst parts of corporate and government projects directly on your cell phone.


Importantly, too, the article states that the app “does not track location, according to its privacy policy”. And it repeatedly refers to only collecting/processing anonymous and aggregated data.

So there’s no point it being an app at all then.

Literally, none. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Unless it’s after identifying or location data, this would have been much better and more efficiently created as a cheap web site than a $160,000 cell app.

Seriously, a web site to collect this data anonymously would be a few hours work; make it a few days to be all pretty-like and consistent with County “branding”. So that’d save $150,000 at least.

There’s no reason at all to make it an app other than to get at the phone’s identifying and location info.

So, I’m not really trusting them on this claim.

Because one of the following statements is true:

  • they are profoundly foolish and wasteful, but are sincere that they will not grab identifying and location data from the phone


  • they know what they bought, and are lying about being anonymous and not gathering locations

Only one of those can be true, and one of them must be true.

(I’m betting it’s the first one, and they just don’t have a damn clue about what they’re doing with the tech. In general, cluelessness should be the default hypothesis in dealing with this kind of thing.)

And, of course, the above just ignores that the government in no way should have the power to order you to use a system like this to be able to work.

That should kinda go without saying.

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