Quebec won’t deploy ‘COVID Alert’ app in province for now

The provincial government notes that it may choose to use it in the future

COVID Alert app on iOS

The Quebec government won’t be deploying the nationwide ‘COVID Alert’ exposure notification app in the province for now.

The province states that its testing and contact tracing capabilities are already sufficient. It’s important to note that COVID Alert isn’t a contact tracing app, as it doesn’t identify users.

Quebec Premier François Legault says that the province isn’t ruling out the possibility of using the app in the future, but notes that he would rather deploy an app that was created in the province.

“We would prefer a Quebec company, but I don’t think this is our main argument,” he told reporters on August 26th.

He also notes that there isn’t broad support of the app in the province due to privacy concerns. It’s worth noting that Quebec was the only province to launch a public consultation regarding the use of the app.

This decision from the province has puzzled the federal Health Ministry, which has repeatedly emphasized that COVID Alert doesn’t track users’ locations or collect any personal information.

A spokesperson from the ministry told the CBC that the app is an “additional tool we can use as we prepare for a possible increase in cases this fall. So why not make it available now in Quebec?”

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has conducted a review of the app and supports the use of the app.

“Canadians can opt to use this technology knowing it includes very significant privacy protections. I will use it,” said Commissioner Daniel Therrien in July when the app first launched in Ontario.

COVID Alert relies on the exposure notification API developed by Google and Apple. The API uses Bluetooth to communicate anonymous, non-identifiable codes between smartphones with the app installed. Smartphones store these anonymous codes.

Then, when someone receives a positive test, they can use the app to upload the anonymous codes. Other phones check the uploaded codes for matches and let users know if there was a possible exposure to COVID-19.

COVID Alert is expected to launch in Atlantic Canada in the coming weeks.

Source: CBC News

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