German police use COVID tracing app to find potential witnesses

Originally published at: German police use COVID tracing app to find potential witnesses | Boing Boing


This is why we can’t have nice things.


I mean, it is doubtful whether the Luca app qualifies as a “nice thing” but as a general point I agree. Law enforcement and healthcare have to be strictly separate, otherwise people are discouraged from using the latter, whether it be individual undocumented people eschewing early healthcare intervention because they fear they will get deported or parts of a population not using a contact tracing app because they feel surveilled.


However, Luca is not without alternatives: more than thirty competitors have been lobbying unsuccessfully for weeks […]. " The Luca app has no shortage of competing products that are just as bad, " noted Linus Neumann, spokesperson for the Chaos Computer Club.

This is why I love the CCC!


Yeah, the road to hell and all. How many folks just deactivated their tracers?


Hey, remember when the CIA impersonated Polio vaccination workers and thus guaranteed that polio will be with us forever instead of being eradicated like it was on the path of doing? These guys thought the same about Covid! Way to go, guys, congratulations on making everyone’s life worse!


Witness to a crime other than deliberately bringing COVID to the restaurant?! How dare they!

Don’t be. That’s where it starts.


What strikes me here is not just that it’s disturbing police over-reach into a dataset that they should never have access to (and how counter-productive this is to public health, due to people now correctly seeing the tracing program as a general government surveillance operation), but that it was so f’ing unnecessary. Finding people who were specifically at a restaurant on a particular date and time isn’t that hard (names off credit cards, appealing for witnesses who will be more likely to remember having been in a restaurant at a particular time than an arbitrary street-corner, etc.), but obviously this was the easiest way to do it. This didn’t happen because the cops were so hell-bent on solving a particular crime - but, on the contrary, because they couldn’t be bothered to do the legwork.


Even when it targets a single crime, the use of medical anything in situations like this makes me deeply nervous and will probably do more harm than good. At most this solves a murder, but possibly not even that based on the summary. At worst this convinces a bunch of people to disable contact tracing, probably well beyond Germany and this specific app. That has the easy potential to cause more deaths. I’m also willing to bet they didn’t bother to exhaust the other less damaging options. Police priority in our cultural decision making is deeply harmful.


good job, cops! you got to solve 1 crime at the expense of many folks disabling covid tracing. way to go.


I am impressed that these authorities were actively trying to solve one specific crime

Are you familiar with the term “slippery slope”?


The thing about feature creep is that it always happens in the direction of the party with the most power getting more power.

When you identify yourself to the government through something called a tracing app, it is not a secret where feature creep will go.

It would be cool to be able to take some of that power back to the individual with self-destructing identifiers; the authority can use it a few times in the next year to say there was a Covid exposure, but can’t spam me over and over or track my life with it. And I can audit who I gave the identifier to and when.

ETA I hope I didn’t just accidentally promote blockchain.


Yeah, this is Germany. Most of them will have paid cash and the rest are debit cards.


Even so - the appeal for witnesses would be a lot more fruitful than if it were some arbitrary location. People are going to remember they were at a restaurant on a given night (and when, roughly, they were there) as opposed to “at the corner of street X at time Y.” And they’re likely to be with someone, and are going to remember who they were with. But it’s not “press a button and get the names of everyone who was there” easy.

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This happened here in Western Australia (WA) as well

So we changed the law to close that loophole


Even in Germany, it seems ACAB…

Frankly I’m surprised that 21 people were even using a covid tracing app.

Exactly the sort of expansion one can expect no matter how earnest and sincere politicians’ promises are they won’t use the data for any other purpose.

Such things are as inevitable as the progression of the seasons.

“It’s for humanitarian reasons” to start or to “help find a lost child”. Things few can object to without looking like Scrooge’s tutor.

Left, right or center, this will happen.

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