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What is the Current State of Contact Tracing?

April 06, 2021 2 min read

contact tracing

It's been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. It has effected every person and every country to some degree. While things are "transitioning" back to "normal life," there are still many different preventative methods taking place; from masks to contact tracing.

Contact Tracing in the United States at the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic was famously co-opted by the tech giants Apple and Google. As proponents of Privacy and Security, this was big news for us. Almost overnight, these companies essentially created a backdoor to everyone's phone and allowed them to "anonymously" track their location. It has been proven how easy it is to pinpoint this "anonymous" data, and who really believes that there is an on/off switch for these companies?

If you're reading this and wonder what we're talking about, keep reading:

What is Contact Tracing?

Contact tracing is a technique to control the spreading of widespread diseases. This process has been used for years to tackle how diseases may have spread, but was historically done through an interview process. However, contact tracing for COVID-19 is completely different than ever before because of how much information that our smartphones have. With all the apps that most people use these days, our location history is regularly shared; Apple and Google have coopted this data to be used by governments to contact trace those who have or may have COVID-19.

The idea being that if you "opt-in" to this service that anyone you may have come in contact that has shown to have tested positive for COVID-19 immediately before or after your proximity that you will be notified. Which could then prompt you to Quarantine for 14 days, or get tested. 

Current State of Contact Tracing

In theory this might seem like great thing and allow us to be a little more peaceful during these trying times. However, the actually roll out required so many variables that were next to impossible to pin down. Proper adoption of contact tracing would have required each and every person to opt-in for the backend to know if you have had COVID-19, and for everyone around them to have opted-in to receive the notification. From there, each person would have actually had to use the same Contact Tracing Application. This appeared to be the hardest part, at least in the United States, as each state wanted to develop their own version of this application and there wasn't one application for every person in the country.

This widespread confusion, growing privacy concerns, amongst personal feelings led many to not adopt this into their lives.

But are these really "opt-in" services?

If these companies can have this installed on your phone overnight are they really respecting you toggling this on or off?

While many are looking to the vaccine for their personal Peace of Mind, does this mean that Contact Tracing is over? Not Exactly.

If you're worried about your location safety, especially since it is close to Impossible to remove the battery from your phone or tablet these days, consider adopting the use of a Faraday Sleeve.

These block all signals when you are not actively using your device and render your location private once again.