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The Race to Trace:
Security and Privacy of COVID-19 Contact Tracing Apps

June 2020

The Race to Trace


Mohammed (Joe) Masoodi

Mohammed (Joe) Masoodi

Sam Andrey

Sam Andrey

Karim Bardeesy

Karim Bardeesy


  • Sumit Bhatia
  • Zaynab Choudhry
  • Charles Finlay
  • Braelyn Guppy
  • Kate Pundyk
  • Yvonne Su



Executive Summary

As governments around the world scramble to control the spread of COVID-19, leaders and policy-makers are urgently considering new technologies that might help. Chief among these technologies are contact tracing apps — mobile device applications that track the proximity of other mobile devices and alert users if they have come close to someone infected with COVID-19.

Proponents of these apps argue they can increase the volume, accuracy and reach of manual contact tracing, provided that enough of the population uses the app.

Though a contact tracing app has yet to be deployed nation-wide, many Canadians seem ready to embrace this technology. A survey of 2,000 Canadians from mid-May 2020 finds that:

  • Majorities of Canadians support making contact tracing apps mandatory for the use of public services, like public transit (55%) and in workplaces (51%), though in both cases only one in four strongly support such an approach.
  • Support is somewhat lower (46%) for retail or grocery stores making apps mandatory.
  • In contrast, opposition to landlords or condominiums making contact tracing apps mandatory (45%) surpassed support (30%).