Commissioner Comments on Alberta’s Contact Tracing App

May 1, 2020

Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton has issued the following statement in response to the launch of Alberta Health’s AB TraceTogether contact tracing application:

I support efforts by Alberta Health to try to enhance contact-tracing processes to respond to the current pandemic.

We have seen several technological ways to supplement contact tracing worldwide, some of which are more invasive than others. In my view, Alberta Health has chosen a less intrusive approach in deploying this app, while continuing to rely on the human expertise required for effective contact tracing. A technological approach alone is not a panacea.

Ensuring this app is voluntary, collects minimal information, uses decentralized storage of de-identified Bluetooth contact logs, and allows individuals to control their use of the app are positive components. People diagnosed with COVID-19 also decide whether to disclose to public health officials the contact log stored on their phone.

My office received a privacy impact assessment on the app earlier this week. An initial review has been undertaken and we have sent questions to Alberta Health to clarify certain aspects of the PIA. For example, I am seeking confirmation that the data collected through this app is to be used for contact tracing, and not for any other purpose.

To complement the good work of public health officials in disclosing information about the pandemic, I appreciate that Alberta Health has committed to publishing a summary of its PIA. We have seen similar steps taken in other jurisdictions to promote accountability and transparency, and to build public trust.

My office will monitor the implementation of this app. Any individual concerned about how their personal or health information is collected, used or disclosed may submit a complaint to my office.

Scott Sibbald
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta
(780) 422-9048