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Privacy Versus The common good


At some point in time you might actually come down with the coronavirus. Which means you're probably are be asked, who you have been in contact with in the last X number of days. Would you be able to say, definitely, who you have been in contact with? like people you passed in the street, were close to when you went shopping and have no idea who they are.

I don't believe hardly anybody has a good enough memory to remember every single person they have come in contact with in the last few days, or even realises who they have been in contact with. But that information is extremely important. With that information the authorities may be able to determine the person that you caught the virus from. That person could be a asymptomatic, have no symptoms at all of the virus, and have no idea that they are spreading the virus to many other people.

Fortunately you have the technology in your mobile phone to overcome your lack of memory. It's your location Data. It is switched on by default but some people switch it off for what they think are privacy reasons. If it's ever the time to switch it back on, now is the time. By doing so you could save many lives.

I use a mapping app called Oziexplorer and have used it for all over 20 years. For at least the last 15 years I have a record of everywhere I've been. It gives me the exact location my phone and previously my GPS device has been with a record of the time to the second and date. I have a full record of all that data for about the last 15 years.

In addition to that because of Google location services, Google also keep similar data. But when it is presented, in Google Maps. it does not show the hour minute second and date for a particular point.

However just having GPS data does not give you the people you're in contact with at those positions. Many of these people will be completely unknown to you. The best way to get that sort of information is to also record video, cross referenced with GPS data.

Fortunately there are already phone apps, that you can get for free, that will record just that. They are car dash cam apps. They can record video and sound and put that together with the exact GPS location. Of course because you've got the video you've also got video of who are close to at the time. Even people you don't know. Because these apps run on a mobile phone you can use them wherever you go, including shopping centres and any other place where you're likely to run into someone that may have the coronavirus.

I have been using one such app called Autoboy Blackbox for quite some time to record everywhere I ride on my ebike. More recently I have been also recording, every time I go into a shop or anywhere else where I run into other people, outside my home.

It records the videos in a normal video file format, but records the other information, being the date and time, GPS Location, Speed, and Address of the location every second into a File that's normally used to show subtitles in movies. When playing such a file with any video player for example VLC player, that has the option to also show subtitles, it will show the date, time, GPS location, speed and physical address, updated every second. It appears to convert the GPS data to physical addresses by looking it up on the Internet as it's doing the recording.

Even if you don't have a video file player the application itself has one built-in and also shows, optionally, a map with the location, as the video is playing.

I realise it's not going to happen but imagine if everybody used such an app and provided the information, if they ever become infected with the coronavirus to the authorities. It would make it extremely easy for the authorities to find every person you've come into contact with and so possibly determine who you got the virus from. But more importantly also isolate those people, so dramatically reducing the spread of a virus.

The big benefit would be only people that were known to come in contact with people with the virus would need to be socially isolated. For everybody else life could return to normal.

Of course one of the difficulties would be privacy. Even though people may have such data, they may not want to give it to the authorities. That's a whole other issue.

If you don't think this is particularly good idea consider that only one person had the coronavirus about 3 months ago and now over 1 million people have it. They say it's going to take at least 12 months to come up with inoculations. The number of people getting the virus each day will likely decrease because of a social isolation that is taking place. But at some stage there could be second and third waves of the virus. Currently it is not known if previously having the virus makes you immune to it.

Even if it could be reduced to only one person in the world unless they know who that person is the virus can still spread again. A big part of this virus problems is simply knowledge.

Knowledge is power, You have the ability to personally record enough knowledge to be able to possibly identify a person you get the virus from, if you should get it. So you have the power to make a big difference. Use it.

Research material used

Cellphone tracking could help stem the spread of coronavirus. Is privacy the price?

privacy_vs_commmon_good.txt · Last modified: 2020/04/05 20:30 (external edit)