Well this is happening at a convenient time. My 3G 20? year old “Flip Phone” is dying. The power connection has an orientation metal ring that now comes out with the power cord. Verizon is slowly nuking 3G service towers (so it doesn’t get calls in some local areas around Cupertino). The Battery is good for about 5 minutes of talk time (so it mostly lives on life support).
Since it is clearly time to get a new phone, I guess I may as well “bite the bullet” and get one of the Linux phones that you can make secure. It will be bigger and clunky in comparison, and have a lot fewer “Apps”, but I’m OK with that.
We now have an Existence Proof of State Installed Tracking Software, against your will, that re-installs upon removal.
Note that what this app does is essentially “contact tracing”, one of the basics of spy craft used to identify all your “associates”, known or otherwise.
Bolding by me as editorial emphasis.
COVID-Tracker App Installs Itself Without User Consent, Including On Parental-Locked Devices.
JUNE 19, 2021WAHAGEN KHABAYAN
Massachusetts state officials recently announced the launch of the “voluntary” MassNotify app, which monitors the spread of COVID-19 in the state. The only problem is the app appears to be installing itself on residents’ and their kids’ smartphones, unbeknownst to users, and without their consent.
The news creates a disturbing new dimension to privacy laws and even private property concerns as hundreds of users have reported their Android phones have had the app surreptitiously installed, without their prior knowledge.
“Thank you MA/Google for silently installing #MassNotify on my phone without consent. But I have a request: Can you also silently install an app that makes my phone explode and k*ll me?” wrote Twitter user Justin Jacobs. Others have taken to the Android app store to register their complaints.
The MassNotify app was developed in cooperation with both Apple and Google, and claims to work anonymously and “not track” users’ private information. This claim was made by Republican Governor Charlie Baker, who said this week: “As we embrace our new normal, MassNotify is a voluntary, free tool to provide additional peace of mind to residents as they return to doing the things they love.”
Now, nearly 300 users have reviewed the instrusive app on the Android app store, leaving it with a one star rating.
User Callie M wrote: “App automatically installed without consent. Weirdly it has no icon and I can’t find any way to open it and see if it could be useful. Bizarre that the state did something like this the very day the state of emergency ended, when over half of adults, myself included, are vaccinated. What info could possibly be necessary with this egregious level of invasiveness NOW? A year ago it would have made sense.”
The app is also managing to install itself despite parental restrictions, as illustrated by user Lex Neva:
“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.”
Steven Nassor wrote: “Installed itself without consent, my rights have been violated and feel as if I’ve been spied upon.”
Many in the state had no idea the app had been pushed to their devices until they got a notification. The app also appears to be reinstalling itself once forcibly removed by users.
“Ghost installed without my permission, and keeps sending me push notifications. I removed it and it reinstall itself. This isn’t something I want in my phone, it’s not something that has permission to be on my phone nor should the commonwealth or any other place/company be allowed to put something on my phone without my permission,” said user Beth Silvaggio.
So now that The State has clearly demonstrated that they can, and will, forcibly install software that is capable of tracking you and that is not visible to the user (only seen as it has the function of notifying users of their proximity to someone marked as a diseased person… Big Scarlet “C” maybe?) there is now absolutely ZERO to stop them from shoving a “Track Me” app on any “Person Of Interest” at all.
Was your phone ever in Washington DC in early January? Expect it…
So I’m going to look at my prior postings on Linux phones. Revisit the current state of the art. Work up a posting, and tell folks what I’m going to run with.
For now, I’ll continue with my “App Impaired” old Flip Phone, but as its days are numbered and few, it’s time for me to embrace the future…