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Turning on Exposure Notifications on your phone?


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I am not sure how I feel about this and I wanted to get some opinions from people who know more about cyber-privacy than I do, which is easily many of you. My state is now in the "red" zone. This is our 10th straight day of 1000+ new cases and our positivity rate has increased dramatically in the past seven days. I can download an app that appears to me to be linked with the Department of Health for my state. IOW, it is not a national database. Well, that's what they are telling me. 

I am generally not a fanatic about cyber-privacy and for the most part, I'm not too fussed about "them" building a profile of info for me. I'm sure "they" already have one as long as my arm. I do still have slight reservations about what genie I may be releasing if I set up this app vs. the benefit I expect to receive from it. It says it does not use location services, but uses "A random bluetooth signal that blah, blah, blah, {stuff that is technologically over my head}." I know what location services are and, TBH, I would probably trust it more if it were using location services, because that is at least something I already use and understand (generally) how it works. 

So. What says the Hive? What bona fide pitfalls to privacy could legitimately be a concern from putting the COVID Exposure Notifications on my phone? 

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I would not do it. I don't use those code thingies at restaurants to see the menu, because I have understood that they are trace contacting, but they don't say that, and that concerns me, that they would be secret about it.

What would be the benefit of adding notifications to your phone? Are you being careful? That would seem to be the most important thing.

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Seems to me like it would depend on the security and protection measures of the company making the app. https://9to5mac.com/2020/11/11/covid-19-exposure-notification-api-states/  If it's an Apple app, i wouldn't worry as they go to the mat over security. Anyone else, and sure it's gonna float so far. 

The 1k seems like nothing. We've crested 7k and our governor is in conniptions. 

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I don't know, but I am also curious about other considerations.  What does it tell you, and how does that impact your life?  If they say you walked past someone with Covid because you were in the same store for x minutes, does that make you feel (or legally be) obligated to quarantine or do anything else?  Would you have liability if you received a notification and didn't quarantine?  Or, on the other hand, would it give you a false sense of security if you didn't receive any notifications?

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2 minutes ago, SKL said:

I don't know, but I am also curious about other considerations.  What does it tell you, and how does that impact your life?  If they say you walked past someone with Covid because you were in the same store for x minutes, does that make you feel (or legally be) obligated to quarantine or do anything else?  Would you have liability if you received a notification and didn't quarantine?  Or, on the other hand, would it give you a false sense of security if you didn't receive any notifications?

This is one thing I wondered about, especially since I am actively trying to get employment outside my home. Is it going to ping me every other day because *someone* around me tested positive? And if so, does that mean I must go get a test before going back to the office? That is part of what I'm wondering. 

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11 minutes ago, Ellie said:

I would not do it. I don't use those code thingies at restaurants to see the menu, because I have understood that they are trace contacting, but they don't say that, and that concerns me, that they would be secret about it.

What would be the benefit of adding notifications to your phone? Are you being careful? That would seem to be the most important thing.

Part of it is that...how to say tactfully...I don't necessarily trust all people I may be around to confess that they were exposed, may have been exposed or, in fact, have tested positive. There are clearly some people who get news in one of these categories but conceal that info because it is too disruptive to quarantine. 

I don't know how much/if the phone notification really overcomes that, though. 

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I read the OP and the "KOD" (Kiss of Death) for me would be that it involves Bluetooth.  I do not use Bluetooth. Never...

Occasionally, I will notice that I have done something wrong and that Bluetooth in my phone is turned on and when I see that Notification, immediately, I turn Bluetooth off.  I am not sure what I do causes Bluetooth to get turned on.

Now with regard to tracking apps.  My DD will be coming from the USA soon and the Colombian government has an App that apparently was rushed into service before it was ready, that she needs to submit before her flight leaves the USA. Apparently getting that to work properly is problematic, depending on the phone number and possibly the email address,  but she will need to do it.   Fingers crossed that she can submit it OK before her flight leaves that day because if not it will be a hassle after her flight arrives in Colombia. 

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14 minutes ago, Katy said:

I turned it on.  Any idea of privacy in an era where every device is listening in is silly to me, and I'd rather know in advance if the clerk from grocery pickup exposed us or not.

I could assume the hacking elderly clerk at Walmart exposed me when she stood beside me to fix my issue at the self checkout. I don't see how a non coughing, brief exposure that is separated by plexiglass is nearly an issue.

So I agree there are real questions about what the app accomplishes. It can say distance and time of exposure, but it can't say what the circumstances were. And if it gets TOO specific, you'd actually be violating the privacy of the other person. So in theory you could be quarantined for an "exposure" with no recourse, no way to fight and say what the circumstances were or that it was an unnecessary quarantining.

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1 minute ago, Lanny said:

the "KOD" (Kiss of Death) for me would be that it involves Bluetooth.  I do not use Bluetooth. Never...

Most people are already using Bluetooth for stuff. Their earbuds, wireless speakers, cordless keyboard/trackpad, lots of things are bluetooth. When they sync with their car, it's usually bluetooth. They may also keep it on if they're using apple pay or other services.

I'm not saying it's great or healthy or whatever. I keep it off on my phone. But for most people it's a nothing.

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1 minute ago, PeterPan said:

I could assume the hacking elderly clerk at Walmart exposed me when she stood beside me to fix my issue at the self checkout. I don't see how a non coughing, brief exposure that is separated by plexiglass is nearly an issue.

So I agree there are real questions about what the app accomplishes. It can say distance and time of exposure, but it can't say what the circumstances were. And if it gets TOO specific, you'd actually be violating the privacy of the other person. So in theory you could be quarantined for an "exposure" with no recourse, no way to fight and say what the circumstances were or that it was an unnecessary quarantining.

I rarely go in a store at all these days, and I definitely don't take in children.  I don't care if I get quarantined.  Very little would change except I'd be more likely to know earlier that I'd been exposed.  DH is 95% working from home and I'm CERTAIN his employer would prefer he know he was exposed and stay home too. Literally our biggest risk is DH's work, but beyond that, curbside pickup and takeout food.

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11 minutes ago, Quill said:

I don't necessarily trust all people I may be around to confess that they were exposed

You also can't trust that all people who have had it around you even knew.

I go on the assumption that ANYONE I'm near could have it, and that I'm willing to get it from them if I get close. You could call it practicing safe talks. :biggrin:

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I am having the same thought experiment, Quill. I did look at the .gov site last night, and I think it addressed what one should do if one gets a ping, but I can’t remember right now what it said. I’ll see if I can find it again. 


What will happen to me if I turn it on?

I would not get a false sense of security. No way. The people who go maskless and flaunt health guidelines won’t even consider turning it on.

If it used location services, I think I would be pinged constantly. I live in an urban setting. I don’t need daily false alarms because someone outside stood still for 15 minutes. But bluetooth? That might be ok. My wireless headphones lose the bluetooth signal with a wall between me and the device. I’d like my line of thinking corrected if I misunderstand the technology.

Edited by Penguin
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55 minutes ago, Penguin said:

Here ya go:

What to do if you get an exposure notice Link

Hmmm. That is troubling, not gonna lie. I'm not going to be a huge fan of quarantining and getting my brain swabbed because someone at Costco had COVID when I was there. 

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1 hour ago, PeterPan said:

Most people are already using Bluetooth for stuff. Their earbuds, wireless speakers, cordless keyboard/trackpad, lots of things are bluetooth. When they sync with their car, it's usually bluetooth. They may also keep it on if they're using apple pay or other services.

I'm not saying it's great or healthy or whatever. I keep it off on my phone. But for most people it's a nothing.

It's a nothing for me, truthfully. I use bluetooth headphones on a regular basis to drown out noise in my household. I also use it for Fitbit. 

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1 hour ago, PeterPan said:

Most people are already using Bluetooth for stuff. Their earbuds, wireless speakers, cordless keyboard/trackpad, lots of things are bluetooth. When they sync with their car, it's usually bluetooth. They may also keep it on if they're using apple pay or other services.

I'm not saying it's great or healthy or whatever. I keep it off on my phone. But for most people it's a nothing.

I agree with you that most people probably leave Bluetooth on.

I only turn it on when needed, which for me is pretty rare. I don't see any point in leaving it on just to let it drain my battery faster.

It doesn't have to be on to use Apple Pay.

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I'd say, do it if you want to, don't if you don't want to.  I'm not so concerned about that type of cyber privacy anymore.  I'm sure I'm already linked into lots of different cyber stuff.  

If I was in a very hot zone (and I think I might be), I might be interested if I'm out and about a lot.  But, I'm rarely out, so I think I wouldn't be very interested in this.  Also, the pings might bother me!

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I was one of the first to download Covidwise.  Is that the same one being used in your state?  I read every word of fine print.  I feel fine about using it.  It only notifies me if I’ve been within 6 ft of someone who also uses the app for longer than 15 minutes, IF they decide to report to the app that they tested positive.  It won’t tell me who or when or where, only that it was in the last two weeks.  I then get to decide how to proceed, that’s up to me. If I test positIve at some point, I can tell the app if I choose, or not. 

I feel much more comfortable using this app than many others.  Some of you know that I have never used Facebook or really any SM (except here, and a couple other message boards over the years), we don’t allow our kids to have an online presence and when they were younger tried to politely ask other parents not to post our kids’ pics on FB, etc ... so I really am quite the stickler on not becoming a company’s product, online privacy, etc.

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19 minutes ago, Quill said:

Hmmm. That is troubling, not gonna lie. I'm not going to be a huge fan of quarantining and getting my brain swabbed because someone at Costco had COVID when I was there. 

But I think you would agree that it is good to know what the follow-up expectations are if you use it?

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1 hour ago, Quill said:

Part of it is that...how to say tactfully...I don't necessarily trust all people I may be around to confess that they were exposed, may have been exposed or, in fact, have tested positive. There are clearly some people who get news in one of these categories but conceal that info because it is too disruptive to quarantine. 

I don't know how much/if the phone notification really overcomes that, though. 

I don’t think those people are going to use an app like that. I’m way more privacy cautious than you sound to be. I have location services off for almost everything, for example. A couple apps have permission while I’m using the app (maps). For me it would depend on how many people were using the app. If it was being well used, I would do it, because the benefit to me of knowing about exposure is worth giving up some information I wouldn’t otherwise give up. It wouldn’t be very useful if it has low use, though. 

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8 minutes ago, Penguin said:

But I think you would agree that it is good to know what the follow-up expectations are if you use it?

Yes, but then, are people going to use it? Hmmm. I'm still uncertain. 

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2 minutes ago, Quill said:

Yes, but then, are people going to use it? Hmmm. I'm still uncertain. 

Reaching back to - maybe May? - I recall hearing that our state needed about half of the population to use the app for it to be really effective.  At that point, we were nowhere near half.  So I did my part, downloaded it and use it.  I think the chances that I’m around a positive person who does not have the app are higher than the alternative, but on the off chance ... it would be useful for me to know if I’ve had an exposure.  I live with high risk people (and an elder), and if I do get a notification, I will take precautions around them or isolate in the house if it seems feasible and necessary.

 

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31 minutes ago, Spryte said:

It only notifies me if I’ve been within 6 ft of someone who also uses the app for longer than 15 minutes, IF they decide to report to the app that they tested positive.  It won’t tell me who or when or where, only that it was in the last two weeks.  I then get to decide how to proceed, that’s up to me. If I test positIve at some point, I can tell the app if I choose, or not. 

Seems too many Ifs and Maybes to make it worthwhile.

Would you be willing to quarantine every time the app notified you? Would you be able to? Are there data what percentage of folks use the app, and what percentage of those would honestly report back about a positive test?

My major concern isn't privacy; it's that this catches only a small fraction of encounters 

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3 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Seems too many Ifs and Maybes to make it worthwhile.

Would you be willing to quarantine every time the app notified you? Would you be able to? Are there data what percentage of folks use the app, and what percentage of those would honestly report back about a positive test?

My major concern isn't privacy; it's that this catches only a small fraction of encounters 

Yes, I agree that it catches only a small fraction of encounters.  I think its usefulness depends on the individual.

For me, it takes no effort on my part.  And even if there’s a small chance that I’ll get notified, it’s worth it.  If I know I’ve been exposed, I can absolutely modify my behavior to expose the elder in my care to less risk. I cannot isolate completely from her, as there is no one else to do her activities of daily living, but I can mask and have her mask, avoid visiting in her bedroom for lengthy visits, etc.  

To each their own.  I’m not a good evangelist for any app, as, like I said, I don’t even do FB.  I think the privacy risks with the app I’m using are less than FB, which most people use anyway.

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Sounds like this would make more sense for some people than others.  For me, it is pretty rare to be within 6' of anyone for 15 minutes, unless it's like the dentist.  But I guess some people have to do that for their jobs etc.  Even then, I would need to know more info to decide what my risk was.  I can't see quarantining for 14 days based on practically no information.

And another question - does this also mean everyone in my house is supposed to quarantine, since they've been around me and sharing air with me for some time since the "exposure"?  Everyone at my work place?  Everyone at my kids' schools?

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