New COVID-19 notification app rolls out in Ontario

Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill

"This privacy-first, made-in-Ontario app is a key part of the province's contact management strategy to help the province to quickly test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19", he states.

Once users download the app, all they have to do is select their province to begin.

The app works by assigning a random code to a users device and pings other users devices within a 10-metre radius through Bluetooth.

- If you're now near someone who was previously diagnosedAccording to the app's description, provincial and territorial governments are working to support COVID Alert across Canada, and in some places, people can't yet report a COVID-19 diagnosis.

The app is voluntary and can be purchased through the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.

Multiple countries have built apps using the Exposure Notification API so far, including Switzerland, Latvia, Italy, Germany, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Croatia, and Denmark. When that code is entered into the app, it will notify other users who may have come into close contact with that person in the previous 14 days and provide them with guidance on what they should do next.

"Several times a day, "COVID Alert" checks a list of codes from people who tell the app they tested positive".

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"No one will know who you are or where you've been", the federal government said in a video.

While a user in any province can download the app, Canadians outside of Ontario will see the message "We'll let you know as soon as people in your area can report a diagnosis through COVID Alert", until their province links it to their system.

The app was supposed to go live for the pilot in Ontario on July 2, however, there's been little information provided about the reason for the almost month-long delay. If someone tests positive for COVID, their public health authority will give them a one-time key to enter in the app.

In a new joint statement, federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien and Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario Patricia Kosseim say they have looked at the fine print of the app's privacy and permissions settings and support Canadians using the app.

"I think they did a really good job".

Ontarians who receive an exposure alert can then get tested and take action to help keep themselves, their families, and their friends from spreading COVID-19 throughout the community.

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