Mobile tracing: Quebec is increasingly moving towards the adoption of a tracking application

For some time now, the Quebec government has announced its desire to introduce a follow-up application, which would ensure a containment voucher and more closely social interactions in the face of the covid-19 pandemic.

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If this government has not yet made a final decision, it should be noted that the situation at present believes that it will be possible that it will do so in the coming weeks.

Indeed, the survey launched by the government to determine whether Quebec citizens were in favour of the introduction of a follow-up application, highlighted results that are positive. A large proportion of the citizens who participated in this survey were supportive of the idea.

On this point, the government has not hesitated to publish the results it considers to be positive during the public consultation. However, experts in ethics technology and even law are still waiting for the opinion to make a final decision.

The time for just 75% of the survey participants, which made up nearly 17,000 citizens, gave a favourable opinion to the introduction of the mobile tracking application. The idea is simple is to be able to analyze the different interactions that citizens will have and then informed if one of them has been in contact with a person who will be declared positive for the disease.

For MP Joelle Boutin, who represented the government during the committee, the final decision has not yet been taken by the government. It also adds that the authorities have already begun to establish a set of protocols that will be used to frame the application. It is noted that the application will be not only involuntary but also free. On the other hand, the Member for Jean-Talon will point out that: "There would be no geolocation, no GPS technology. We would rely on Bluetooth-type technology." The principle is that the application collection will have no personal data or biometric data and its use will remain anonymous.

In addition, we learn that the application to be produced will have the same traits as the one already in circulation in Ottawa, Alert-COVID. An application that was designed by company Shopify.

However, it should be noted that the government did not participate in the commission initiated by some elected officials to clarify certain issues relating to the protection of citizens' privacy. This is clearly understandable when we know that last Tuesday, says a large number of experts questioned on the issue unanimously confessed that the application so far is not something that has demonstrated its effectiveness elsewhere in the world. It requires a pilot phase before any deployment in Quebec.

Jocelyn Maclure, chairman of the Ethics Commission on Science and Technology, said: "An application is not a major solution to the fight against the virus, but at best it is a complementary measure. ». His concern remains that employers cannot their employees make certain constraints to download the app and install it on their smartphones.

For the League of Rights and Freedoms, Quebec laws are not adapted to the development of such technology. For her part, Marwah Rizqy, the official opposition government administration spokeswoman, said: "The tracking application will not address the real problem. The arms we missed, there, in our CHSLD, well, it was the army that came to answer that, it is not the application of tracing. On the contrary, according to the various reports that are currently filed, these applications could cause a false sense of security." She reiterates the protection of Quebecers' personal data and privacy: "I am very aware that GAFAM is chasing this data because it crosses data, it is well known. They want to identify our behaviors, they want to know what we like to buy. ».

For Quebec Solidarity, the government before any action must be inspired by what has already worked and not worked in other countries about this kind of technology. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois notes: "Elsewhere in the world, where these applications have been implemented, they are not effective. What guarantees that Quebec will be different? Because for a tool to be useful it has to work, otherwise it is useless. ».

Martin Ouellet, spokesman for the third opposition group, highlights the main issue of the problem with this technology: "Could the Quebec government empower populations at higher risk to get their hands on this technology? ».

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