21 December 2020

Mikkel Thorup about digital contact tracing


Mikkel Thorup is interviewed by co-researcher and BARC member Thore Husfeldt on ITU's popular science podcast Cast IT about digital contact tracing.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Professor Mikkel Thorup has served on the scientific board advising the Danish authorities on the development of a national contact tracing app using mobile phones for exposure notification.

Thore Husfeldt sits down with Mikkel, exposure notification apps dutifully switched on, and talk about how such an application works. The Danish system, “SmitteStop”, uses Digital Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing. What does that even mean – how is the protocol defined, what is the mechanism by which privacy is preserved (and to which extent), and which role does the Google–Apple API play in the application?

Apart from the technical issues, we probe several issues on the fault line of technology and society. What are the alternatives to privacy-preserving exposure notification? E.g., could we do much more, and – to the extent that our phones already track everything and we share it freely – why aren’t we just using that information during a pandemic? What are the trade-offs between safety and liberty, is privacy a form of manslaughter, whom should we trust with our data, and how do different cultures around the globe manifest in deciding these tradeoffs?

Click here to see the Cast IT podcast "Mikkel Thorup: Digital Contact Tracing".

Mikkel Thorup's Cast IT interview by Thore Husfeldt