The COVID-19 pandemic has infected more than 800,000 around the world, killing more than 39,000 people. The novel coronavirus is spreading fast and governments all around the world are trying to educate people on social distancing, lockdown, and bailouts
The Privacy and Enforcement Conundrum
An effective way to prevent the spread of this virus is to first identify who have been potentially affected by it and then making sure that they don’t come in contact with anyone. We first need data of the infected patients and people who potentially may be affected, in order to achieve this.
Currently, there are two extreme approaches being taken:
- Complete surveillance – We have seen multiple instances of Databases of people who have a history of travel publicly shared, while it is important to combat the virus it cannot be at the cost of individual privacy.
- Complete reliance on users – On the other end of the spectrum apps have been created which completely rely on users approving to share their location with complete privacy, while it may be ideologically well placed but simply not enforceable and practical enough to be implemented on a wider scale.
A bunch of volunteers from India have come together to solve this conundrum without having to give up privacy, they have built an open-source app using the Ethereum Blockchain and the IPFS-based MoiBit.
The app allows citizens to voluntarily participate in a program which records their location history in an anonymous way. If there are any infected people with a travel or location history originating from a particular place, the other users who were present in the close vicinity will be warned of the incident, to put them on close observation as a precaution. Meaning, the privacy of the user stays in-tact until government agencies intervene in specific cases of contact or outbreak.
Tracy addresses privacy concerns by allowing people to safely and confidently share information without compromising privacy. The medical teams/task forces get access to location data that is stripped of PII (Personal Identifier Information) and can apply business rules to intervene in specific cases.
While other apps are just storing the location and identity data in central databases, Tracy is leveraging MoiBit – an IPFS based decentralized storage system to store data. The data is encrypted at the device and stored in the network in an anonymous fashion, so even when governments access the data they only get the essential data such as geo-location, symptoms, etc.
How it uses Ethereum
The App uses an identity system called Moi_ID which leverages the Ethereum Blockchain to store some of the identity metadata whenever they are created. All of this is done with zero-knowledge proofs so that the identity of individuals remains pseudonymous.
The project is already getting a lot of traction, there are over 160 active members actively contributing to the project. Aicumen, the company behind MoiBit has presented the solution to several lawmakers in India and the US.
They have started a crowdfunding campaign on Gitcoin, find the link here: https://gitcoin.co/grants/547/tracy-an-intelligent-application-using-decentraliz
TRACY Whitepaper: https://www.GetTracy.app/assets/files/TRACY-Whitepaper_NoCopy.pdf
TRACY Website: https://www.GetTracy.app/
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