The government will know each user’s data and geographical location at all times. The application CuidAR (Taking Care ARGENTINA) already has 1.5 million users, but the number of expressions of rejection is growing.

Since last May 8th, Argentine citizens have been expressing concern, not only about the coronavirus (COVID-19) but also about privacy. On that date, Alberto Fernández said that those who resume their jobs after the quarantine will have to comply with the requirements established on the CuidAR platform.

The Secretariat of Public Innovation and the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Nation created the application CuidAR. Those people that need to work outside of their homes have to download it on their smartphones. The measure is causing concern in the population about how the government could use the personal data available to them.

The application aims to explore the symptoms that citizens could have, to track patients with coronavirus from their geolocation. According to local media, the government will know each user’s geographic location at all times, as well as his or her health data. It will also be able to share some data through social networks, such as Facebook.

Dangerous Data in Wrong Hands

Although more than 1.5 million Argentines use the application, expressions of rejection have spread through social networks. Many people fear that the application might have sinister implications and give greater power to the State over citizens, thus violating several articles of the Argentine Constitution, according to lawyer Alejandro Fargosi.

Computer expert Javier Smaldone requests that the Argentine Government publish the source code. This is the version of the application that programmers can detail order to understand and verify how it works. The developer also requests that non-essential functions, such as surveillance and monitoring, be removed and not required.

Health Solution but Privacy Problem

As a first step, the self-test through the CuidAR application measures the user’s body temperature. Then, the user must answer a series of questions about other symptoms related to COVID-19, such as loss of the senses of taste and smell, sore throat, and respiratory distress. Finally, the user must report if he or she has diabetes, cancer, or any kidney, cardiological or respiratory diseases.

After that, the application establishes if the individual has symptoms related to COVID-19. If the answer is negative, it issues a certificate so that the user can go to work for 14 days. However, it recommends repeating the test every 48 hours. If the answer is positive, the application provides details of the care measures that the user needs to take, and establishes a 14-day isolation countdown.

Argentina is not the only country to implement COVID-19 contact tracking technology or the only one where there is a privacy concern. China, the USA, Singapore, and several European countries have developed similar applications. Some public health experts consider that these applications can help control virus outbreaks. However, privacy specialists warn of the need to limit and protect the data collected.

The solution would be based on a private blockchain network and would allow the results of the tests to be entered and consulted in real time. Contact tracking is the process of locating and isolating people that may have been exposed to an infectious disease after someone tests positive. Today there are multiple tracking applications, but very few are based on privacy.

By Alexander Salazar


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