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WA Rep: COVID app is a privacy issue, based on unreliable data

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Washington state and Governor Jay Inslee just rolled out a COVID app that uses your smartphone to tell you if you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID. Rep Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen) is not a fan and likely won’t be installing the app on his phone. He joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss.

“This is not a good idea — and by the way, it’s not a particularly new app, other states and countries have used similar similar versions — the first (issue) is I’m not certain that this is really going to be that effective at preventing and slowing the spread of COVID,” Walsh said.

“It’s based on a lot of modeling, and the modeling involved in measuring the spread of this virus has been really wrong in many key points … The governor’s science and data is not really reliable,” he added. “It’s not hard numbers. It’s a projection of a projection.”

But it’s the issue of privacy that Walsh is most concerned with when it comes to the WA Notify app.

“For some people, the app is automatically loaded onto their phone under their hardware with regular operating system updates,” he said. “By a strict definition, it is voluntary. But the phone companies, the service providers, the operating system managers will try to slip it in so that most people are doing this, and I think that’s a privacy violation.”

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“We’ve got so much in technology these days that invades privacy in kind of tricky ways that claim to be voluntary,” he added. “But in practice really aren’t that voluntary, and I’m concerned about it there, too.”

Walsh believes that Gov. Inslee and others have unnecessarily politicized this issue, which can undermine people’s faith in public health.

“He’s been as he is on a lot of these issues, and he spins the truth a lot. The bigger risk … is when you politicize this stuff so much you run the risk of basically undermining people’s confidence in public health approaches and public health policy,” he said.

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“I think that’s the biggest risk right now that COVID poses to us in Washington, is that the way that this governor has gone about responding is going to erode everybody’s confidence in legit public health issues and policies,” Walsh added.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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