The Massachusetts Department of Public Health partnered with Google and Apple to create a smartphone app called MassNotify, which tracks and traces people, advising users of others’ COVID-19 status.
For a tool that claims to have been developed “with a focus on privacy,” imagine Massachusetts residents’ surprise when the app suddenly appeared on their Android phones out of nowhere. In a review on the Google Play Store, one shocked parent said:
This installed silently on my daughter's phone without consent or notification. She cannot have installed it herself since we use Family Link and we have to approve all app installs.
I have no idea how they pulled this off, but it had to involve either Google, or Samsung, or both. Normal apps can't just install themselves. I'm not sure what's going on here, but this doesn't count as ‘voluntary.’ We need information, and we need it now, folks.
The official MassNotify site, operated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, makes no mention that the app will automatically show up on residents’ phones without consent, stating only that MassNotify is a “new tool that works through smartphones, with a focus on privacy, to alert users who may have been exposed to COVID-19.”