Contact Tracing Mobile Apps for COVID-19: Privacy Considerations and Related Trade-offs
Published 2020-03-25Version 1
Contact tracing is an essential tool for public health officials and local communities to fight the spread of novel diseases, such as for the COVID-19 pandemic. The Singaporean government just released a mobile phone app, TraceTogether, that is designed to assist health officials in tracking down exposures after an infected individual is identified. However, there are important privacy implications of the existence of such tracking apps. Here, we analyze some of those implications and discuss ways of ameliorating the privacy concerns without decreasing usefulness to public health. We hope in writing this document to ensure that privacy is a central feature of conversations surrounding mobile contact tracing apps and to encourage community efforts to develop alternative effective solutions with stronger privacy protection for the users. Importantly, though we discuss potential modifications, this document is not meant as a formal research paper, but instead is a response to some of the privacy characteristics of direct contact tracing apps like TraceTogether and an early-stage Request for Comments to the community.