Apparently, the reason the NHS contact tracing app fell over on my fairphone was because some e users got very concerned about their ~privacy~ so the solution that e came up with was to silently kill the app I was relying on.

My best friend has cancer and I thought I would get exposure notifications which is slightly more life and death than privacy fantasies of fossbros.

They ~silently~ disabled the entire covid thing. I am so livid. This was supposed to be better than google, but in this case they've showed way less sense and responsibility

(I'm going to at the companies involved rather than subtoot them:
@Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation )

@Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation

I would like to encourage to reconsider their partnership with /e/ given this reckless and irresponsible action that literally puts the families and friends of /e/ users at physical risk.

covid, /e/ 

@Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity
The contact I found was product support

This is the letter I wrote:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to ask you to reconsider using /e/ for the FOSS version of the . As you may know, /e/ decided to silently break support for covid contact tracing apps. They removed the part of the microG kernel that allowed these apps to work and made it an optional extra download. Creating extra steps for covid tracking is already a decision that endangers public health. However, they also did this without even mentioning it in the release notes or generating any kind of error warning. Instead, the track and trace apps just stopped working.

I tried deleting the app and reinstalling it and their app store did not direct me to the needed component. It just failed to work. The way they implemented this change was so astonishingly bad, that it seems more likely motivated by covid denialism than any privacy concerns.

/e/'s choices here are reckless, dangerous and endanger the lives of the friends and family of your customers. I no longer believe /e/ to be an ethical operating system. I feel they are acting counter to your mission.

I strongly urge you to find another partner for the foss version of your OS. Software ethics, as well as the health and safety of my community are both very important to me and are both concerns that are aligned with your values.

Thank you for your time.



Yes, that's actually me question and answer. My complaint is that they silently REMOVED support for the app without any warning or notification and it was some time before I noticed the problem.

@celesteh I wonder how the app ever worked in the first place, since e comes without play services, right?


The module to provide contact tracing support used to be compiled into the OS kernel and they removed it in a subsequent version. I don't know if it was the most recent update or the one previous, but I feel like disabling this should have come with a popup warning at the very least.

@celesteh Wow. That's remarkably shitty of Fairphone. At the *very least*, **warn** people that's happening, don't just effectively kill a potentially vital app like that.

@porsupah to be clear, this was the choice of /e/ and not fairphone.

@celesteh @Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation

at very least., there should be a safety warning on the privacy settings that makes it clear this is happening (similar to how if you disable traction/stability control in your car, a warning light is constantly shown on the dashboard)

@vfrmedia @Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation

While that would have certainly been better, I do not think it would have been appropriate or sufficient. People who don't want contact tracing apps can avoid installing them.

It is absurd and impossible to accommodate paranoid fantasies about contact tracing. If the state decides to legally compel people to install these apps, then users in those countries would also be legally required to install the OS module that makes them work and to enable it in settings. There is nothing gained by making it an optional install - aside from avoidable covid infections.

@celesteh @vfrmedia @Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation Yuppp. I'm gobsmacked that an OS that's all about being de-Googled but "you can install Facebook from our App store if you want to, it's your choice!" can't apply the same principals to facilitating an app designed to literally save lives

@Shrigglepuss @vfrmedia @Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation

You /can/ install a module that allows track and trace apps to work. You can find out about this module by posting in a forum.

So the element of choice remains, but they very actively discourage track and trace apps by making this so difficult.

@celesteh @Shrigglepuss @Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation

what I meant was mirroring functionality of existing road vehicles - there are options to turn off stability control and passenger airbag (both safety critical), modern cars default to these features being active every time the vehicle is used, they have to be explicity turned off and there is always a warning signal to show that this has been done (and its a UI that many people will be familiar with)

@celesteh @vfrmedia @Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation I can't recommend an OS that needs so many hoops for something as important and necessary to so many people as this by design, which is a shame, because I've generally liked /e/ up to now. It's unreasonable to expect their users to do this, particularly when they appear to be targeting average every day users that are just concerned about their data. To know that they'd silently pulled the rug like this is a line crossed for me

@celesteh @vfrmedia @Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation Like, there will be /e/ users now walking around with a false sense of security because some Joey Fossbro shat the floor. It's *utterly* reckless and I don't see how it aligns with Fairphone's principals regarding the ethical treatment of people


could you point to a guide how to install lineageOS over /e/ on FairPhone which is a 'breeze'? I'm always afraid I will spend whole day installing a custom rom and brick my device in the process.

@ManniCalavera no worries. thanks for the link, will check it out...

@celesteh, this is what I found on the /e/ website:

No idea why EN was enabled in the first place when you initially installed/bought /e/. Maybe it's because that FP3 release was configured differently than the FP2 one.

I agree that people will be kept away from using a COVID warning app if it doesn't work out of the box. I don't think that it's /e/'s _intention_ to inhibit warning apps, see "Stay healthy! Stay safe!!"

@Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @e_mydata @gael

@astronav @Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @e_mydata @gael

Actions speak louder than words. They created extra barriers. Their app store just silently allows users to install covid apps without bothering to alert users about required extras to run them.

Their blandishments are adding insult to literal injury.

@celesteh @astronav @Fairphone @fairphonecommunity @e_mydata @gael
Hm, lineage OS has also no support for microG as an app. It has to be installed with the OS (like GAPPS). (As far as I understood)

However, the @CCTG app works out of the box, if this helps.


Wrt @CCTG, the same holds for /e/: #CCTG works like a charm on /e/. However, that won't help you in countries with different warning infrastructure...

@celesteh @Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @e_mydata @gael

@celesteh @Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation That's incredibly disappointing to have done that without any warning at all. I remember when it was a new thing trying to install the app on /e/ and it wouldn't work, I wasn't aware that it did work for a time since. To hear that it worked and was removed with no warning or instructions to retain that feature is properly shit of them. Isn't the idea of /e/ to respect users' choices regarding privacy and data rather than to have it dictated?

@celesteh @Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation

I can understand, given their mandate, that they chose to remove the tracking backend, but it's absolutely negligent that they failed to sufficiently inform their users.

Removing a health safety feature without making it very clear that you've done so is obviously a terrible idea.

@jeffalyanak @Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation

People who don't want contact tracing apps could just not install them. Anything that requires extra steps to enable them is an active discouragement of their use - and will cause some people to die.

@celesteh @Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation I understand that there are security concerns regarding the underlying code which may be exploited by apps other than contact tracing apps.

I'm not against the removal of the code given that some people using the OS require a higher degree of defense against tracking, but since its removal broke support for contact tracing, it should have been explicitly clear to the user.

The fascination about the SARS-CoV-2 pseudo-pandemic is the battle between individualism and collectivism.
Is it appropriate to rely on questionable technology, in a society that is not exactly self-less?
It is interesting to note the balance between personal risk management and denigration of "privacy fantasists".
Informative thread nonetheless; thank you.

@celesteh, could you please point out which version of /e/ came with EN support and in which version it got removed?

I'm asking because I have been using /e/ on my FP2 since 0.13 (which reported "noen" in the microG version) and IIRC, every upgrade since also had the "noen" tag.

@Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation

@astronav @Fairphone @FairphoneCommunity @efoundation

The short answer is that I don't know. It worked when my phone was new and I noticed that it had stopped working a week or two ago. I'm guessing it was the most recent or the version right before the most recent one.

This effected my phone which I installed myself and my spouse's phone, which was purchased directly from /e/

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