By Jack Bingham
Auditors within Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal government are recommending that the next-generation COVID Alert app be designed with more robust data collection capabilities.
In a recent audit report by Health Canada titled Evaluation of the National COVID-19 Exposure Notification App, government officials highlighted certain areas of weakness in the now-defunct COVID Alert app launched by the Trudeau government at the beginning of the so-called pandemic, saying that keeping these in mind could “ensure the successful development and launch of a similar app by the Government of Canada in the future.”
“While keeping privacy at the core of app design, explore options to increase the ability to collect data, including personal information, to aid public health measures,” auditors wrote in the report.
“Any discussion about the collection of personal information would benefit from early engagement of internal privacy experts and (the Office of the Privacy Commissioner),” they added.
Addressing the abysmal failure of the app, which cost taxpayers $20 million and only managed to get 57,000 Canadians on board before being shut down in June, auditors admitted that “Trust in government is also clearly an issue,” referencing that over half of Canadians reported they do “not believe the government” will refrain from collecting “their personal information” or determining “their location.”
Lack of public trust in Trudeau’s federal government is largely warranted, especially when it comes to clandestine surveillance of the public through mobile applications.
In June, it was reported that over 715,000 Canadians who downloaded the Department of Environment’s weather monitoring app had their location tracked without their express consent by the federal government since the app’s launch in 2019.
Likewise, in December 2021, Trudeau’s federal government admitted it covertly tracked the cell phones of 33 million Canadians throughout the so-called COVID crisis, using cell tower data to determine population movement patterns and monitor compliance with health directives.
The Trudeau government’s desire to both continue and expand upon its current data collections operations seem to back up statements made by American intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden, who warned in 2020 that surveillance measures deployed by governments during COVID may end up becoming a permanent fixture of society.