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Letters to the Editor: Contact-tracing apps on our phones sound frighteningly Orwellian

Singapore contact tracing
A Singapore government employee demonstrates that country’s smartphone contact-tracing app on March 20.
(AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: Anonymity does not exist in the digital world as long as the big technology firms hold our information.

The contact-tracing partnership between Google and Apple likely has underlying motives, and the only assurance of anonymity comes from the companies. As if our smartphones do not already chip away at our mental health, imagine the stress of getting constant pings every time you come across a COVID-19-infected person.

Why don’t these companies instead figure out ways to make the unemployment insurance system more efficient and humane? It’s been more than five weeks, and I haven’t seen any unemployment benefits.

Or, how about helping with the deployment of stimulus checks or refunds? I have yet to see either of those. Those projects would not pique the primary motivations of tech companies: to monetize their technology.

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John Rivett, Palm Springs

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To the editor: Freedom is something on which we should keep a tight grip and not give up, even in increments, too easily.

Government can mandate social distancing, close public places and even temporarily shut down commerce to stop the spread of a pandemic to help prevent overwhelming hospitals, healthcare workers and possibly our entire healthcare system. But the smartphone apps as described are almost Orwellian in nature.

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Will the apps be turned off when the pandemic ends or when we are all vaccinated? What prevents the apps from later being repurposed by the government or others?

Will this become an instrument for fighting crime? It’s one thing to have cameras monitor areas, but it’s quite another to use technology to monitor us personally even if it is anonymous.

Remember the potential of unintended consequences.

Michael Solomon, Canoga Park


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