Governor stands by app; blames concern on feud with competitor

BISMARCK, N.D. - Governor Doug Burgum R-N.D. is defending the Care19 app, which keeps track of where users go.

The point is to anonymously track them in order to help contact tracers should they catch the coronavirus. A business that sells privacy software is calling that anonymity into question.

The app collects information anonymously, giving each user a unique identification number and tracks the locations of the user all their phone as well as saving the data on servers of ProudCrowd.

When it was first pitched to North Dakotans, users were told that that information was for their use and their use alone, and not being sold or used by third parties. But a report from Jumbo Privacy says otherwise.

Even in the app's privacy policy, it says that no government entity or third party will share the data, but also references a few companies that will have temporary access to the data for processing and use. The Governor said this was no concern of his, adding that he said he was amused by the headlines.

"You go shop online, that data is bought, sold, used by all kinds of people. Care19 is not in that business and doesn't profit from it. So i love the deep scrutiny and I love the fact that maybe people are getting educated about how these free business models work. But I tell you, there's nothing there on this Care19 story,” said Burgum.

The privacy policy is not the only inconsistency in the messaging.

Vern Dosch, North Dakota’s contract tracing liaison, told the Washington Post that they should have vetted the app more.

The Governor, while not responding directly to those comments, did say that they could have been more clear in explaining the process. Saying that no personal data had been shared, because personal data isn't collected nor exchanged amongst the platforms.

However, The Governor and FourSquare acknowledged a previous relationship between a FourSquare and the writers of the report. Adding that bad blood between them could of played a role in the news worthiness.

"The third party that was involved in this write up is a company that sells privacy, they try to get you to buy their app and so there's a motivation for them to try to say things like this so that people might go buy their app. But again, Care19 is totally anonymous, totally private,” said Burgum.

All of these efforts were made in the name of contact tracing, which has been helping the state reopen.

And now there are more re openings on the way, because the Governor is reopening state facilities on June 1st.

They will reopen similar lead to all their businesses affected by executive orders, with 50 perfect normal capacity and attempting to maintain expanded tele work services.

And while many of these businesses are into being reopened, Burgum amended another executive order.

The executive order that called for their capacity limits and other restrictions are losing their Force of law. These guidelines calling for masks to be worn and other seating arrangements are now going to be guidelines rather than and forced by law and penalties.

Not only are these restrictions being lifted before a long weekend, but they are also being loosened when the 14-day rolling average is on an upward swing at least for the past week.