Japan will soon join its more technologically aggressive peers in Asia with its own contact-tracing app aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19, as the nation inches its way back to a post-emergency life of normalcy.
Minimally intrusive and conditional on consent, the digital contact-tracing technology Japan is deploying is nowhere near as authoritarian in nature as those employed by countries such as China, South Korea, India and to a lesser extent, Singapore. But despite the privacy protections built into the platform, which the government is touting, the app's effectiveness has been thrown into doubt, with some critics suggesting it is more of a security blanket than a powerful ally in tracing infection pathways — at least for now.
The app's effectiveness is not the only source of controversy over the soon-to-debut app. As much as the built-in privacy protections are being extolled, the app, officials concede, is not entirely risk-free and could potentially clue in users on the identity of coronavirus patients they came into contact with.