Headlines: questions about the possible digital tracing at the end of the containment

Audio 04:51

A smartphone screen. Questions about the digital tracing (Stop Covid-19) which could be set up at the exit of the confinement (illustration image). REUTERS / Marko Djurica / Illustration

By: Aurélien Devernoix


" A necessary evil ", judges Le Figaro , for whom this technology intended to follow the contacts of future patients in order to limit the epidemic is source of " moral complexity ". But the daily believes that in this case " we must recognize the government its expressed concern for public freedoms . "

It must be said that for a few days the debate has been raging within the majority, several political figures having expressed their reluctance towards the tracing, in particular the former adviser of Emmanuel Macron and current MEP Stéphane Séjourné.

Fry on the line that Olivier Véran and Cédric O are trying to dispel in an interview with the newspaper Le Monde. The Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Digital defend the StopCovid project.

Cédric O explains the mode of operation of the application in this way: “ when two people meet for a certain period of time, and at close range, the mobile phone of one records the references of the other in its history. If a positive case occurs, those who have been in contact with this person are notified automatically. "

But Liberation notes that " the fears remain lively " on this subject. " Even respecting all the technological and legal criteria, it remains a tool for monitoring people, for monitoring, " said a member of the La Quadrature du Net association in the columns of the newspaper.

And Le Figaro adds: " What is life worth without intimacy? What is at stake is the sanctuary of privacy ”. But the newspaper recalls that even before the coronavirus crisis " we accepted the sacrifice of a large part of [this] intimacy. If Big Brother exists, it is neither at the Élysée Palace nor Place Beauvau, but in Silicon Valley. "

Digital tracing is already in place in several Asian countries. And the press describes how it works.

In Singapore, the TraceTogether application has already been downloaded more than a million times and the government is pushing the entire population to register, reports Le Monde . Because, explain the authorities, it is impossible to remember all the people we have met for two weeks ... but our phone can do it. Then there remains the social pressure to make its effect, as evidenced by a French woman installed on the spot: " When I told my Singaporean friends, during a dinner, that I had not downloaded it, everyone m looked funny. I did it right after »

Mediapart reports for its part the situation in Hong Kong where patients are isolated and monitored by geolocation while teams trace all their contacts. South Korea has set up a mixed system combining digital tracking and neighborhood alert system.

The most impressive method is the one implemented in Taiwan, explains the news site, where from the end of January the authorities launched a monitoring of all people coming from infected areas, but also large screening campaigns supported by cross-checking administrative files and rationing and then distributing masks to the population. Result, only 376 cases reported while the country had daily connections with the province of Wuhan

The multidimensional strategies necessary because digital tracing also shows its limits

Singapore is thus facing a “ second epidemic wave ”, explains Le Monde, which has led the authorities to close businesses and educational establishments. With only 1 in 6 inhabitants having downloaded the application for the moment, it cannot be effective, it would require at least 80% coverage of the population, experts remind.

Mediapart, for its part, cites the harmful effects of the Korean pointing tracking system: members of a Christian congregation which had been one of the first epidemic centers in the country have since been the object of a " witch hunt ", Including layoffs, and family persecution.

And then there is the question of technological equipment, as reported by Les Echos : a quarter of French people do not have a smartphone and will therefore not be able to download the future StopCovid application. This proportion even rises to 44% among those over 70, a population particularly at risk.

The government is working " on various possibilities to help with equipment, or alternatives to smartphones for those who do not have it, " agrees Cédric O in the columns of Le Monde .

So, you were talking about witch hunts in South Korea ... 15 years ago, there was one too, but also of elves, barbarians and mages ... during a virtual pandemic

This happened in the massively multiplayer game World of Warcraft, whose programmers had created a mission involving a contagious disease ... which completely escaped them and created a situation quite similar to the one we are experiencing today IRL .. in real life ... Liberation devotes an exciting article to it.

Leaks of infected people, quarantine, deviant behavior ... researchers have even studied them. And this proves useful 15 years later, in particular to analyze individual behavior and the impact of micro-decisions in a pandemic.

So you're going to ask me how did this story in World of Warcraft end? Well, the game publisher had to shut down its server and reset everything. So I'm leaving you, I'm going to get the planet reset button.

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  • Digital