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Massachusetts state officials recently announced the launch of the “voluntary” MassNotify app, which monitors the spread of COVID-19 in the state. The only problem is the app appears to be installing itself on residents’ and their kids’ smartphones, unbeknownst to users, and without their consent. The news creates a disturbing new dimension to privacy laws and even private property concerns as hundreds of users have reported their Android phones have had the app surreptitiously installed, without their prior knowledge. “Thank you MA/Google for silently installing #MassNotify on my phone without consent. But I have a request: Can you also silently install an app that makes my phone explode and k*ll me?” wrote Twitter user Justin Jacobs. Others have taken to the Android app store to register their complaints. The app was developed in cooperation with both Apple and Google, and claims to work anonymously and “not track” users’ private information. This claim was made by Republican Governor Charlie Baker, who said this week: “As we embrace our new normal, MassNotify is a voluntary, free tool to provide additional peace of mind to residents as they return to doing the things they love.”

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