Frequently Asked Questions

What is MyDataCan?

MyDataCan is a privacy-principled ecosystem in which an individual collects, stores and assembles his own data in a private, personal data repository (“a data can”) and may allow apps affiliated with MyDataCan to use his personal information to help him live a better life.

MyDataCan Public Health Edition to Combat COVID-19 is a special version in which affiliated apps store location information in a person’s data can. A human contact tracer may access up to the last 14 days of location information specific to a person who tested positive to COVID-19. The retrieved information will either be locations where the positive tested person’s device has been and may include people whose devices were in close proximity to the positive tested person’s device. Information older than 14 days is not available to human contact tracers. The human contact tracer uses the information to determine whether the proximate people were likely to have been infected and will notify them accordingly.

What is the University doing?

The University is launching a limited pilot of MyDataCan Public Health Edition to Combat COVID-19 (“Pilot”). The Pilot uses affiliated apps on MyDataCan to help educate the community about COVID and the need for contact tracing.

When will the Pilot be in effect?

The Pilot will be in effect from Thursday, August 27, 2020 through Sunday, August 31st.

How long will MyDataCan retain information?

Information stored in a person’s data can is under the control of the person. The information will remain in a person’s data can until he deletes it, his account is terminated, a machine failure occurs or the platform closes. The location information that a human contact tracer may access on a need-to-know basis will only persist in storage on MyDataCan for 14 days. No copies or backups exist.

Who is able to access my information on MyDataCan?

A person has complete access to her own data, as available in her personal data can. She may share the information with apps affiliated with MyDataCan. If so, MyDataCan describes the kind of data each app requires for use. And, MyDataCan Public Health Edition to Combat COVID-19 also allows a human contact tracer to access select location information relevant to a person who tested positive.

What kind of location information is on MyDataCan?

MyDataCan Public Health Edition to Combat COVID-19 has affiliated apps that store location information into the user’s personal data can. Examples of the kinds of location information is GPS, TraceFi, key exchanges, and Wi-Fi network information.

Is my information secure on MyDataCan?

Yes. Information storage and handling on MyDataCan complies with the requirements for “Level 4 data” under the Harvard University Information Policy.

How do human contact tracers use my information on MyDataCan?

When a person tests positive to COVID-19, a human contact tracer interviews the person to identify who may have been infected. She will enter the COVID-19 positive person’s HUID into a special program written and maintained by Harvard University Information Technology (HUIT) group. The HUIT program translates the person’s HUID into a MyDataCan code for the person. MyDataCan then provides the last 14 days of location for the COVID-19 positive person and that information includes any people proximate to the COVID-19 positive person over the last 14 days. The human contact tracer reviews this information with the COVID-19 positive person and makes a determination who, if anyone, was likely infected and notifies the people accordingly.

How long is my information available to human contact tracers?

Only the last 14 days of information is available to human contact tracers, and only then, on a need to know basis specific to an interview with a person who tested positive to COVID-19.

Am I required to participate?

Participation is optional. No one is required to participate or run the apps affiliated with MyDataCan. In many cases, non-affiliated versions of the same app are available. The non-affiliated apps do not store or load information from MyDataCan.

How do apps get affiliated with MyDataCan?

An App developer must apply to the MyDataCan Governance Committee to have an app actually operate on MyDataCan with real users. Apps are not allowed to further share user data. An app may only have permission for specific data sharing operations on MyDataCan. No approved app is granted permission to all data sharing operations. Permission decisions are narrow and specific to the service that the app provides to MyDataCan users. The MyDataCan App Center lists all approved apps and the permissions granted to each app. A MyDataCan user can elect to use or not use any app on the Platform.