At a press conference yesterday, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte announced that actually he didn’t really have much to announce. He was more slippery than a married man caught by friends of his wife with a profile on Tinder. “I was just curious to see what it was like liefje, seriously!” Getting back to the subject of the press conference, the prime minister was vague about when the current “intelligent lockdown” would be lifted.
There was however a glimmer of hope. The ministry of health is investigating the launch of smartphone apps that will warn people if they’ve come into contact with anyone that has the coronavirus. Such apps are already being used in South Korea and Singapore.
The elephant in the room
I’m amazed that with all the well educated and highly intelligent people working in the Dutch government, that not one person has suggested the obvious. Why invest time and money on the development of new tools when practically every Dutch person in this country is using one or both of the following apps.
The government should simply declare a state of emergency and force the providers of the apps to add coronavirus alerts. Here are some examples of how this could work.
1. Tikkie Alert
Obviously for privacy reasons names and phone numbers will have to be removed from messages. But if you come into contact with someone who has the coronavirus you could receive the following Tikkie.
The Tinder app could also be adapted to break the news in a positive manner.
Being spied on by the government, the new normaal?
Prime Minister Mark Rutte was pretty clear that the use of apps to notify and track people with the coronavirus would be one of the conditions for loosening the current lockdown conditions. He was clear that there would be a new kind of normaal once the lockdowns are eventually lifted.
The use of apps to track people who have the coronavirus triggers a number of concerns for me.
- Data privacy. Once part of the government knows you’ve had the coronavirus how do we know that this data won’t be passed on to other departments, insurance companies or even other countries?
- Is having a spy from the government in your phone 24×7 which will be able to track all your movements a good thing?
- What’s to stop someone who has the coronavirus and who doesn’t want their data shared to simply buy a second phone without the app?
Obviously, the sooner the lockdown ends the better. But I hope that our civil liberties and right to privacy won’t be watered down. What do you think? Post your thoughts on here or in the Shallow Man Facebook group or page.
No government spies were hurt during the writing of this post.