Results 1 to 28 of 28

Thread: Contact Tracing and Cowboys

  1. #1

    Default Contact Tracing and Cowboys

    In light of the protests of Corona Virus lock downs, what is the likelihood that US cowboys will get comfortable with being tracked for individual lock down? It seems to me to be the most reasonable route to bring this epidemic under control but what about the cowboys? Can this strategy work without their "consent"? I believe it will require new laws and enforcement that could lead to riots or at the very least terrorism. Anyone else have thoughts on the viability of contact tracing the the US?
    .

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Being View Post
    In light of the protests of Corona Virus lock downs, what is the likelihood that US cowboys will get comfortable with being tracked for individual lock down? It seems to me to be the most reasonable route to bring this epidemic under control but what about the cowboys? Can this strategy work without their "consent"? I believe it will require new laws and enforcement that could lead to riots or at the very least terrorism. Anyone else have thoughts on the viability of contact tracing the the US?
    Honestly? I think the biggest issue is that no one picks up their phones for an unknown number.

    There are ways to make contact tracing work in a democracy. First, you need to have a massive workforce trained to carry out the tracing. Second, you need to figure out a way to get people to pick up the damned phone (possibly by working with telecoms to set up a special caller ID). Third, you need people to comply with mandatory testing and isolation orders. While I have no doubt there will be some leakage, my impression has been that most people are generally well-meaning and will try to comply; certainly Google's data from my state has tended to support this conclusion. The big limitation for some people will be related to their life circumstances - e.g. jobs, children, living situation, etc. A set of comprehensive solutions *must* be in place to allow these people to isolate without losing their jobs, going broke, or fundamentally screwing up other commitments. That's fundamentally a question of appropriate laws and money, both of which can be found.

    If you can do all of this, then you just need a shitload of tests so you can rapidly test every single contact - and every single contact of those positive-testing first order contacts. That requires testing capacity that currently doesn't exist. We're probably talking about 1-2 million tests a day.

    The flip side of this is surveillance. Hopefully your contact tracing operation is limited to hundreds of cases a day per medium-sized state. Assuming a few dozen contacts per person, it's a doable task. But you're also going to need to have surveillance of the broader population in order to find other contacts you don't catch (or more unidentified virus in the wild). To test enough of the population, you're probably going to need to randomly test a substantial fraction of the population every few weeks, which gets pricey. One idea I saw was pretty clever - track shed viruses in sewage to get geographical localization of places experiencing undetected surges of virus, and concentrate a higher proportion of testing resources and isolation orders there in order to clamp down on flares. It requires far less testing of individuals but still allows you to deploy your resources efficiently and track the extent of the spread on any given day.

    I do not think that something like a draconian location tracking app system would find any traction in the US, nor do I think it should. There are less invasive ways to get similar results.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  3. #3
    Contract tracing can be a great success in tackling a virus and is something I've advocated in the covid thread from the start but it requires voluntary co-operation and at scale it requires a massive infrastructure of testing capabilities, tracing volunteers and/or surveillance.

    One thing our government has been working on is an NHS contact tracing app which will have a central database but the data will be anonymised. Every phone with the app installed will get a random unique identifier code. If your phone with the app detects another phone with the app's bluetooth ID and measures the distance between them as being close then the phones will exchange identifier codes. Then if someone updates their status on the app to say they've tested positive that will cascade push notifications to warn you that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive and that you may need to be tested or isolate.

    Some have expressed 'Big Brother' concerns about this but I think that's silly. The app is voluntary to install, you can disable it at will via turning off bluetooth, you can uninstall it at will. Its a strange sort of surveillance that requires you to cooperate. Plus the government can already track the location of a phone by its signal anyway so a voluntary bluetooth sharing of contacts for a limited period is really quite moot in comparison.

    I think the principle this should be voluntary shouldn't be compromised. For principled reasons but practical ones too - not everyone owns or carries a phone anyway, not everyone who does owns or carries a smartphone. And even if you do and are made to install it you could disable it as easily as disabling bluetooth. There's no point trying to make it compulsory. Here I fully expect the tracing app to be launched with a tag line of "Download the app. Protect the NHS. Save lives." and a blitz of media and social media publicity I expect that will be sufficient to get very high uptake.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    ℬeing upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  4. #4
    I find it stretches credulity that such a system would actually be anonymizable.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  5. #5
    True but it also stretches credulity that spooks don't already have a way to track your data and location from your phone prior to an app like this. If you're out and about with a smartphone I don't think spooks would be relying upon an app like this.

    Last year I got a visit from an undercover officer who wanted to review my premises CCTV for the car park. A drug dealer (I'm assuming) was using our car park to meet up with people. I'd known nothing about this but he gave me a list of dates and times that he'd driven onto and off our car park down to the minute for each. He had access to time and date stamps, location and satellite imagery down to pinpointing where on the car park he was parking.

    If the government wants to know where you are and you don't want it to do so then don't freak out about an app. Leave your phone at home full stop.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    ℬeing upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  6. #6
    I agree that there are likely illegal ways for the government to perform warrantless surveillance of their population en masse. I am not interested in making it legal.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  7. #7
    I doubt the information I saw in my example was illegally obtained.

    And again this information sharing is voluntary and can be uninstalled or disabled at will. If you have a Facebook account etc on your phone I think the extra surveillance this app brings on what is already there will be entirely miniscule.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    ℬeing upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  8. #8
    Wow, I didn't know there was a fecal test that could detect the virus. Learning new shit every day!
    .

  9. #9
    Cowboys gonna do it their way.

    Disrespect is telling someone they need to wear a mask.

    Just imagine the reaction if you told people like this they have to stay home because you surveilled them.
    Last edited by Being; 05-05-2020 at 02:23 PM.
    .

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    I doubt the information I saw in my example was illegally obtained.

    And again this information sharing is voluntary and can be uninstalled or disabled at will. If you have a Facebook account etc on your phone I think the extra surveillance this app brings on what is already there will be entirely miniscule.
    I'm sure your example had the UK version of probable cause and a warrant. My point is that we'd be giving the information to the government without those requirements.

    Voluntary can easily become compulsory if, for example, people start conditioning your going to work or a store or traveling on scanning your app - which is actually how it works in China.

    I don't have a Facebook account on my phone, not do I use most location services, and I regularly clear the histories many companies compile about me. Regardless, for the majority of users who are less concerned about privacy, there is a distinction between giving a private entity information about yourself in exchange for a service and enabling the government to do so.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Being View Post
    Cowboys gonna do it their way.

    Disrespect is telling someone they need to wear a mask.

    Just imagine the reaction if you told people like this they have to stay home because you surveilled them.
    I love how social media is insinuating that this "disrespect" is something specific to people disliking masks and not just random black on black ghetto violence. Could have just easily looked at someone the wrong way and got shot. This was in a Family Dollar *that needed a security guard.* Leftists trying to pin this on Trump supporters protesting lock-down and mask measures is absolutely fake news.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    Honestly? I think the biggest issue is that no one picks up their phones for an unknown number.

    There are ways to make contact tracing work in a democracy. First, you need to have a massive workforce trained to carry out the tracing. Second, you need to figure out a way to get people to pick up the damned phone (possibly by working with telecoms to set up a special caller ID).
    On the second point - holy shit please make a true functioning caller ID network that can't be spoofed. Huge win for lots of other reasons too.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Lewkowski View Post
    I love how social media is insinuating that this "disrespect" is something specific to people disliking masks and not just random black on black ghetto violence. Could have just easily looked at someone the wrong way and got shot. This was in a Family Dollar *that needed a security guard.* Leftists trying to pin this on Trump supporters protesting lock-down and mask measures is absolutely fake news.
    I'm pinning this on the cowboy mentality that will make contact tracing less effective than it otherwise could be. But of course that can only be black and white to cowboys like you.
    .

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Amsterdam/Istanbul
    Posts
    10,936
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    I find it stretches credulity that such a system would actually be anonymizable.
    In essence it's how it worked in some places for STD's and other contagious diseases. Everybody acts like this is a new idea, but the only new thing about it is using the phone in your pocket rather than huge numbers of people.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  15. #15
    Honestly I do not understand what you're trying to say here. Could you please elaborate?
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  16. #16
    What is being developed across the world are digital apps scaling up existing techniques for contract tracing STDs and other contagious diseases.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    ℬeing upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  17. #17
    Those apps presumably are not monitoring everyone's location and interactions on a continuous basis, though, and not on a population wide scale.

    I'm not saying contact tracing can't be done - it's standard public health practice to deal with infectious disease. I'm just saying (1) it's a difficult task for the scale and time sensitivity, and (2) giving the government a legal means to track their citizens at large is unwise.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Being View Post
    I'm pinning this on the cowboy mentality that will make contact tracing less effective than it otherwise could be. But of course that can only be black and white to cowboys like you.
    Lewk isn't a cowboy, he's just a stupid man with a racist bent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Being View Post
    In light of the protests of Corona Virus lock downs, what is the likelihood that US cowboys will get comfortable with being tracked for individual lock down? It seems to me to be the most reasonable route to bring this epidemic under control but what about the cowboys? Can this strategy work without their "consent"? I believe it will require new laws and enforcement that could lead to riots or at the very least terrorism. Anyone else have thoughts on the viability of contact tracing the the US?
    So there are practical, legal, ethical and social challenges.

    The practical problems (testing capacity, contact-tracing apparatus including personnel, infrastructure, etc) can be addressed relatively easily, if you have the money and have no other concerns.

    Legally, states have a relatively broad authority when it comes to imposing measures deemed necessary to safeguard public health, in the context of communicable diseases. In many countries, this is fairly uncontroversial (eg. wrt certain STIs, where both reporting, compliance with contact tracing and monitored treatment might be mandatory). As we've seen in the US, this authority has, in practice, been construed to permit lockdown- and shelter-in-place orders. However, I think that any attempt to implement a mandatory app-based contact-tracing scheme would be met with fierce legal and political resistance, and I don't think such a scheme has any hope of succeeding in the US.

    Nor do I think mandatory contact tracing should be attempted in the US, because of the negative ethical and social implications.

    1. It would be an infringement on autonomy—which has to be weighed carefully against the public interest.

    2. It would, more specifically, be an infringement on the right to privacy—whether it's done by the govt. or by a private entity. There's a very high risk of de-anonymization (perhaps even with the most sophisticated solutions being explored r n by major companies), and a person's identity would be relatively easily collated with a vast amount of other personal data. Can the US govt. be trusted not to misuse such data? Can it be trusted to adequately secure such data? Can any private company be trusted not to misuse such data? Can they be trusted not to give other companies access to the data? RB correctly points out that many govts already have the capacity to engage in intrusive surveillance of individuals, but they (presumably!) do not engage in or abuse such surveillance at the scale that's being proposed here. FB etc. also already engages in extremely intrusive tracking, but the sensitive personal information a digital contact-tracing scheme of this magnitude might hoover up is on a completely different level, and there's a high risk that even voluntary schemes involving private companies would become mandatory in practice, giving you the worst of all worlds (with the additional risk of civil liability).

    3. If you implement a govt. mandated contact tracing scheme, it will almost certainly entail a number of interventions and enforcement measures. Wrt covid19, we currently have no real treatment for SARS-CoV-2 that might be considered in people who aren't in need of hospital care, so the most likely intervention is quarantine. Who will enforce the quarantining of individuals, and how? Compared to other western nations, the US is a uniquely dysfunctional, violent and unjust society, characterized by pervasive discrimination and low levels of social capital. Will you enforce quarantine with the help of police? Violent right-wing extremists will kill cops, and cops will arrest, abuse or outright kill brown people (never mind those who might be deported). Any measure that increases the number of contacts between regular people and police in the US is going to have a direct body count. Will you enforce quarantine with the help of fines? The burden will fall disproportionately on socioeconomically disadvantaged groups with non-existant financial margins—including the burden of the inevitable mistakes that will be made because no system is perfect. And I have no doubt the system would be abused for political purposes—it wouldn't be difficult to selectively reduce election turnout at the neighbourhood level, for example, around election time.

    These are just some of the most obvious concerns, and I believe they are sufficient to dismiss mandatory contact tracing as a desirable approach for the US, if such a scheme would even survive legal challenges and political chaos. I also don't believe voluntary contact-tracing would be particularly useful in the US. It wouldn't be particularly effective in curbing transmission in typical US communities, and, regardless of whether or not you couple it with financial incentives and support—which would in itself be questionable if the service is managed by private companies—it would disproportionately benefit those who need it the least.

    I think the best the US can hope for is to endure a protracted plateau phase during which they can try to put surveillance infrastructure in place (see eg. method being trialed in Sthlm and elsewhere involving tests on sewage to detect outbreaks in smaller areas), increase testing capacity, secure access to PPE and increase access to healthcare, and develop a policy framework to help shield people from the worst consequences of living through a poorly-controlled pandemic in a barely civilized third-world nation.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  19. #19
    My Vote Leave government can kiss my hairy backside if they think I'm installing their app.

    They've given me few (if any?) reasons to trust anything they claim.

    Mathew Gould (NHSX) said data collected would be used for "providing care, public health management and relevant research". Relevant research? No thanks.

  20. #20
    LOL you've become such an extremist parody if you think the NHS app will be used nefariously like that because of Brexit.

    I'm sure Oxford University academics etc will be researching this for years to come as they should it's why they are leading the world in seeking a vaccine.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    ℬeing upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  21. #21
    I didn't say it was because of Brexit. It's because I don't trust the Government as well as the people making it.

    If you trust them, good for you.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Amsterdam/Istanbul
    Posts
    10,936
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    Honestly I do not understand what you're trying to say here. Could you please elaborate?
    What I am saying is that the wholr principle of social tracking is not new at all. The only thing new about it today is that Corona makes it imperative that we use other means than paper questionaires and people making phone calls to dozens of people.

    It's a bit late to start a debate if such a mechanism is justifiable.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Flixy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    5,926
    I think the concern is not about tracing contacts, but about the government having a log of everybody's location readily available and then we have to trust they won't use it for anything else once they have that.

    And yes, I'm aware they can already get that information, but now they have to go to your phone provider with a warrant, as opposed to just having all the information already. And most of our governments don't have a great track record when they promise to use new data for specific purposes... until they have the data and then they find new purposes.
    Keep on keepin' the beat alive!

  24. #24
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Amsterdam/Istanbul
    Posts
    10,936
    But those concerns have no real relevance to the discussion. The average person may perceive this as something new but there is nothing new about it. And tbh, I don't feel any obligation to start a principles discussion just because we automate an existing system and some people simply don't trust the government.

    What it does show on a sideline is that far too few straight people test for STD's. Otherwise this could never have been such news. And I can assure you that in that environment people are a lot more squeamish about sharing the information that might be shared than the information that would be shared in coronavirus contact tracking.

    PS: with an app that doesn't include GPS tracking all the government would know that you were close to other people but not necessarily where and in what capacity. Basically it would no tell government more than 'it was busy in the station during rush hour'.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    One idea I saw was pretty clever - track shed viruses in sewage to get geographical localization of places experiencing undetected surges of virus, and concentrate a higher proportion of testing resources and isolation orders there in order to clamp down on flares. It requires far less testing of individuals but still allows you to deploy your resources efficiently and track the extent of the spread on any given day.
    I heard about that. Didn't realize corona viruses could be detected in fecal material, or that testing could single out covid-19.

    It sounds interesting but would miss outbreaks or surges in two important groups -- rural areas (with septic systems) and the elderly/nursing homes (who use 'adult diapers').

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    In essence it's how it worked in some places for STD's and other contagious diseases. Everybody acts like this is a new idea, but the only new thing about it is using the phone in your pocket rather than huge numbers of people.
    Right, contact tracing isn't a new idea in public health, and it used to require large numbers of people to actually trace the contacts. It's been done for decades without compromising peoples' privacy (HIPPA laws, etc.) but it still relied on voluntary participation.

    The newfangled thing about using cell phones to do contact tracing is rather like the Facebook friends-of-friends flaw, where privacy vulnerabilities are built into the platform's algorithms. No one wants to get dragged into a "database" without their consent, that can be misused in the name of "public health".


    The other thing that's new and different.....is that some people don't give a shit if they're infecting other people as asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic spreaders. Fuck science. Epidemiology is part of the lib'rul elite and the Deep State. Ride it like a cowboy!
    Last edited by GGT; 05-08-2020 at 12:58 AM.

  27. #27
    I will say this for digital contact tracing though—it would make it much easier to get an accurate picture of heterogeneity in contact patterns.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  28. #28
    Let sleeping tigers lie Khendraja'aro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    In the forests of the night
    Posts
    6,075
    Quote Originally Posted by Flixy View Post
    I think the concern is not about tracing contacts, but about the government having a log of everybody's location readily available and then we have to trust they won't use it for anything else once they have that.
    Last time I looked, the API Apple will provide for something like that (and you need Apple in the loop for this) will explicitly ban such apps from getting the geolocation.
    When the stars threw down their spears
    And watered heaven with their tears:
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •