App mandates assume ownership of a compatible device and that such devices being turned on an trackable at all times – what could go wrong?
Even worse, many schools—including Indiana University, UMass Amherst, and University of New Hampshire—are requiring students to make a general blanket commitment to installing an unspecified tracking app of the university’s choosing in the future. This gives students no opportunity to assess or engage with the privacy practices or other characteristics of this technology. This is important because not all COVID exposure notification and contact tracing apps, for example, are the same. For instance, Utah’s Healthy Together app until recently collected not only Bluetooth proximity data but also GPS location data, an unnecessary privacy intrusion that was later rolled back. Google and Apple’s framework for exposure notification based on Bluetooth is more privacy-protective than a GPS-based solution, but the decision to install it or any other app must still be in the hands of the individuals affected.
Many of the “pandemic policies” seem destined to become semi-permanent or even permanent. Making everyone trackable in real time is an obvious desire of many – from business to government to police.
The FAA has formally proposed that all radio control model aircraft be trackable in real time, with model aircraft automatically logging their position into an Internet cloud database at least once per second. A side effect of this requirement is it may make flying model airplanes and quadcopters sufficiently expensive or inconvenient that it clears the airspace for Amazon delivery drones – which is the primary intent of the rule. Additionally, the FAA noted other real time information may be collected in the cloud including imagery and telemetry, the latter being potentially intercepted Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals, which could be data mined for other applications including marketing, law enforcement or industrial espionage.
Privacy is so last century… we can see where this is going. Local police are already using cameras to record and track vehicles by their license plates.