tech

Japan to launch coronavirus contact tracking app next week

32 Comments
By Kiyoshi Takenaka

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© Thomson Reuters 2020.

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To give smartphone users privacy protection, the app Japan will be launching does not collect names, phone numbers, user location and other personal information, the ministry said.

Since it's linked to your phone number, that information will be recorded.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Such a message will be sent only if the infected individual gives consent

better than nothing, one obstinate person can screw the whole thing up. But it's a brilliant idea used in other countries for months. Thumbs up for this.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

It all sounds very benign, but I don't trust this government to a) not use the data for geolocation at some point b) keep the app and data safe from hackers and other 3rd parties.

Someone will abuse it eventually, and this type of ankle bracelet won't just go away after COVID-19...

https://youtu.be/k5OAjnveyJo

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A government surveillance app, it was only a matter of time.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Google, apple are already tracking us 24/7 ,

3 ( +5 / -2 )

This is a joke. Without lots of testing the app is totally useless. Almost no cases are ever found because there is next to no testing in Japan so how is the app going to help!. Maybe it can magically sense the virus cases to replace testing!

It is just Japan trying to look good pretending to be doing something about the virus so they can say to it people and the world " see we have an app too" . No matter there testing lowest in the world so there is negligible data for the app to have any purpose. Of course in Japan it is "face" that matters.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Anon.

Exactly,

The health centers will never encourage you to take a test so I see very little usefulness in the app.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japan has not suffered the explosive surge of coronavirus infections seen in some other countries. It has reported about 17,300 confirmed cases and 922 known deaths to date.

Not seen, because test were negligibly low. I would add a zero to the number of infected. As for the death rate lower than europe numbers but not 922 even if the death rate by cause of death is finally released I would still be skeptical judging from the numerous cases in the past of tampering of data, Shredding and data mysteriously missing or not taken.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

How would it work when there is almost no test data to compare it with. It's crazy how unconsolidated the views and initiatives of the diet are. First they announce they're doing away with any plans of blanket test programs, then announce a contact tracing app?

It's really quite spectacular.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Meaningless if only a small percentage of the population use the app.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japan’s IT skills and IT security are some of the worst in the world. Will never trust Japanese IT products with sensitive personal information. This thing will be hacked in the first week.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Who keeps Bluetooth 'On' and 'Discoverable' all the time?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

As others have pointed out, this is absolutely useless as there are only 998 "official" active cases in Japan as of this moment and I'd imagine only a fraction of those would trust their information to a government app.

Such an app would needs to go hand in hand with much higher testing to serve its purpose.

Another PR stunt from the LDP the way I see it.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

purely worthless.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Isn't this useless without testing?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Since it's linked to your phone number, that information will be recorded.

Hope. It uses, one-time tokens, the same as Apple Pay.

Google, apple are already tracking us 24/7

Well, Google anyway. As you will recall US police and Intelligence agencies are POed with Apple for not ratting their customers.

It all sounds very benign, but I don't trust this government to a) not use the data for geolocation at some point b) keep the app and data safe from hackers and other 3rd parties.

No one, not even Apple or Google, get that info.

Who keeps Bluetooth 'On' and 'Discoverable' all the time?

Lots of accessory users: Bluetooth headphone users, AppleWatch users, external keyboard users …. My iPhone 11 has it on all day and most days shows a 40% charge at the end of the day.

Frankly, if it improves your odds against this disease, as The Great Pumpkin says, “What have you got to lose?”

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Give Google all this added data they can then sell on and make millions. Nope, not me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Australia did this a month ago. There was an open and transparent discussion, explanation and education campaign where its necessity, utility and benefits were explained. The concerns and reservations regarding privacy were also openly addressed. The Aussie govt. promised NOT to share personal information with third parties nor law enforcement. It was all very above board as they pleaded to the nation to download the app as the best tool available to getting back to a semblance of normality. It was well explained and hence well received. Didn’t need any silly mascot or cartoons either. Just appeal to adult sensibilities and sense of personal responsibilities.

Hope it works here too. The tin foilers will always be on the back foot and suspicious, but For the general population ( unless you have delusions of cloak and dagger grandeur and self importance ) it shouldnt be too hard a system to accept. All depends how much trust the citizens have of their leaders.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

It's a noble attempt but, once you give them the keys to your home they will be living with you. No matter how many "opt outs" and promises to use data responsible.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To change up an Orwell quote:

Never trust a government or any power that uses outdated Windows XP in its administration of duties.

Last year the gov't said many of its offices and many offices at prefecture and local gov't outside of Tokyo, Chiba, Aichi, Osaka had to keep using XP as training on new os would require too much time and money.

It has been painfully obvious for a decade that Japan's gov't is woefully inept in technology. To the point that the 75 year old dinosaur in charge of the gov't tech office said he did not even know how to use an Iphone or even check his emails.

Sorry, I refuse to trust this.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Australia's version, thought touted as the key to flattening the curve and downloaded by half of the phone owning population, was a complete failure, with only one person has been identified from it.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/24/how-did-the-covidsafe-app-go-from-being-vital-to-almost-irrelevant

1 ( +2 / -1 )

kyushubillToday  01:37 pm JST

To change up an Orwell quote:

Never trust a government or any power that uses outdated Windows XP in its administration of duties.

I personally know of one major city that still uses floppy discs.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We cant know exactly what method this app will use unless the source code is also made available. Without seeing the source code, and being able to build and compare the binary myself, I won't trust this or any of the other tracing apps.

If they're using the Apple API, then it should be more trust-worthy and reliable than a custom solution, but even then, there's little to stop the app dev's from layering in additional 'features'. If they're too heavy-handed with it though, Apple would probably reject the app in the approval stages. However, Android is a completely different situation.

Given that this is not a commercial, for-profit app; I cannot come up with any reason why the source code should be withheld. Unless there's something in there they do not want us to see. So I ask, who is the dev team, and where is the code?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This is the same app we use in Australia. It was developed in Australia. It’s a shame that information is missing from the article.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan has not suffered the explosive surge of coronavirus infections seen in some other countries. It has reported about 17,300 confirmed cases and 922 known deaths to date.

Nearly 1500 excess deaths have also been reported:

https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/a49bc0549ed39e9464170a0b5b28419073ed04f4?fbclid=IwAR3H0VwwoUwVg4y_AAfMaN830yIIzttJMwhPhaA60Ruu5ZeUmj4YZbikI6E

"The scale of influenza epidemics this winter, which affects fluctuations in the number of fatalities, is smaller than in the past three seasons, and the number of suicides has been lower than usual. Mitsuyoshi Urashima, a professor of public health at Jikei University School of Medicine, said, "We have not found any other factors that increased the death toll, and it is possible that the new corona directly or indirectly affected a considerable number of excess deaths." "

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The tin foilers will always be on the back foot and suspicious,

If you believe giving over more if your privacy via a magical, life-saving app to a time-proven, corrupt government is the right thing to do against this faceless threat that has directly affected such an abysmally small part of the population, then you would firmly in the "tin foiler" pack...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As long as I use the phone like a normal person, they can follow me as much as they want. If I don't want to, I leave the phone at home, for example.

Sometimes I wonder how people used to be able to survive without smartphones? :)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Other than my wife, I haven’t been within a meter of a person for 15 minutes for months now, and won’t be until there is a vaccine. I see zero value in this app - but for office workers, taxi drivers, etc., maybe.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Big Brother is Watching You

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan’s IT skills and IT security are some of the worst in the world. Will never trust Japanese IT products with sensitive personal information. This thing will be hacked in the first week.

Even the Japanese don’t believe in themselves. If the end users involve many foreigners, the government will outsource the whole thing. For eg. The development of 2020 Olympics website, it’s ticketing, payment gateway, security, etc were all outsourced to various companies in South Korea.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sorry, basic question.....

If contact details are not captured...

then H0W THE H3CK are you going to get alerted to the fact that you have been in close proximity to someone who has/had the Virus !!???!

Blatant Lies from someone here.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

All over the world Government is always late.. anyhow congrats for the new innovation

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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