North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum issued the following statement today in response to reports on data and privacy related to the Care19 contact tracing app.
“Care19 does not require or utilize names, addresses, emails, phone numbers or other direct personal information, and data on places visited by the user is held securely in the ProudCrowd servers using a randomly assigned, anonymous 32-digit number. None of this data is being shared or sold for commercial purposes,” Burgum said. “The anonymous information Care19 is gathering can save lives, and smartly and safely using technology is one more way to help us speed up our economy recovery.”
Tim Brookins, CEO of ProwdCrowd, which developed and launched the Care19 app in partnership with the North Dakota Department of Health, explained that Care19 uses a third-party service to help properly detect what places the user visits. Current versions of Care19 use Foursquare for this service.
“The simple overarching fact here is that Care19 has stated, and Foursquare has confirmed, that they have not, and will not, collect any data from Care19 users,” Brookins said.
Following is the official response from Foursquare:
“Foursquare receives some data from Care19, a free user of our SDK, but we do not use the data in any way and it is promptly discarded. For free users of our SDK, Foursquare does not use, repackage or resell the data. Essentially, any data we might receive is immediately discarded. Here is our license agreement for developers using our SDK.
“We appreciate that Jumbo Privacy (which was founded by Foursquare alumni, and we’re proud of their mission) commits to protecting consumer privacy — we deeply believe in the same principle. In ensuring due diligence on our end, I can confirm that when reviewing Care19 as a free user, we are adhering to our commitment that no data is used in our downstream products.
“We’re glad to see app developers use our location technology for good. It pushes innovation forward, which is why we wanted to open up our SDK in the first place. Equally important to innovation are the ethical and privacy values behind it, and we remain committed to ensuring the proper safeguards and practices are in place.”
If they have concerns, users may choose to delete their data stored on ProudCrowd servers at any time by pushing the "Erase Data" button on the Care19 About screen.
Burgum announced Wednesday that North Dakota will launch a second contact tracing app using exposure notification technology developed by Apple and Google. The app, named Care19 Exposure, is expected to be available within the next two weeks. The existing app, which has more than 33,700 users, will be rebranded as Care19 Diary. Data is collected anonymously in both applications, and participation is always voluntary.