In the first weeks of 2020, as the coronavirus began to rapidly spread around the world, some people, including myself, soon realized that many of the technologies deployed to fight the pandemic were also posing a threat – to our privacy. Becoming concerned about the mass surveillance-enabling digital contract tracing technology emerging in some countries, a grassroots group of people came together to start a project to help preserve civil liberties during the pandemic. What started as an independent research collaboration between Stanford University and the University of Waterloo became a collaboration of hundreds of volunteers spanning borders and time zones, unified by a desire to create positive change.
I’m honored to have been part of the global movement of technology and public health experts who came together virtually to develop the world’s first privacy-preserving mobile app, Covid Watch, using Bluetooth proximity networks. Our work led the way for industry giants Google and Apple to release a joint protocol for anonymous exposure notification.
The team who helped develop the Covid Watch app were foundational to the development of exposure notification technology – we’re experts on it – and by having helped invent this approach, we are best positioned to move the privacy-preserving technology forward for a global solution.
That’s why I formed WeHealth as a public benefit corporation in August 2020, to bring our best practices from human-centered design and technology to continue creating innovative digital solutions for the benefit of our collective public health. At WeHealth, we envision a future with greatly improved communication between individuals and health experts to increase resilience to present and future public health concerns.
We’ve already achieved a lot together with our partners in a short amount of time, and we’re just getting started. I hope you’ll follow along by subscribing to this blog. Or even better, join us.