Mosquito Alert (in any of the names that it may have had in the past or may acquire in the future) collects, among other things, data and images shared by volunteers and makes them available to third parties and the general public. In order to protect the privacy of its volunteers, Mosquito Alert aims to avoid collecting personal information, meaning information that can be used to individually identify a specific natural person. Thus, Mosquito Alert requests that volunteers not transmit names, addresses, passwords and any other personal information when sending reports. The exact locations of observations are collected during report submission, and these may coincide with the exact location of volunteers, but this information is linked only to the report and to a randomly generated user ID. Photograph metadata is not requested, and if photographs sent to the project through the app contain metadata, this metadata will be deleted once the image reaches the project server, with the exception of the photograph geolocation, which will be kept associated with the photograph and may be published.
Mosquito Alert also collects the approximate location of the volunteers at random intervals in time (in order to assess the geographic areas covered or explored by the volunteers), but this information is also only linked to a randomly generated user identifier. Volunteers may include notes and photographs in their reports, but it is their responsibility not to include in these notes and photographs any information they wish to keep private or any information that violates the privacy rights of others or is inconsistent with the Mosquito Alert user agreement.
Mosquito Alert has mechanisms to prevent, as far as possible, personal data that users may have sent by mistake, despite anonymization measures, from being shared with the general public. Likewise, Mosquito Alert applies measures to detect if personal data has been shared and to eliminate it from the database, as far as possible. Despite this, if in any particular case these measures do not prevent the publication of a personal data, those who detect it are encouraged to notify those responsible for Mosquito Alert, in order to proceed to eliminate its appearance in public space if possible. Mosquito Alert cannot guarantee the elimination of personal data that could be collected by Mosquito Alert by mistake despite the anonymization measures, nor can it guarantee that such data will be not visible to members of Mosquito Alert or to any of its collaborators or third parties.
It is noted that if participants share their observations (reports) in any public medium, such as on social networks, they may be associating these observations with their personal data (e.g. personal account on social networks), thus giving up, voluntarily, the anonymity that the project seeks to provide.
Mosquito Alert allows participants to keep their data while maintaining anonymity, through an authentication system using external accounts (email, Facebook, Twitter), through Firebase. This allows participants to sync multiple devices and recover data if they have to uninstall the app. This option is voluntary and is not activated by default. In any case, the information collected by Firebase for this purpose is not stored on the Mosquito Alert servers, is not linked to the scientific data collected by Mosquito Alert, and is not processed by Mosquito Alert.
A detailed list of the information that Mosquito Alert collects is as follows:
- Reports collected and sent by volunteers in relation to breeding sites, bites and sightings of possible mosquitoes (Mosquito Alert currently focuses on 5 different species of mosquitoes), as well as volunteers responses to questions sent to them through the app. This includes the precise location of the volunteer observations and photographs (as well as photograph metadata location, if any), notes, or any other information that the volunteer adds to the report.
- Information on the approximate location of the volunteers, sampled in background mode and at random time intervals. This information is collected for scientific purposes, to know the geographical areas explored by the volunteers (sampling effort, that is, in which areas there is or is not participation and to what extent, to be able to relate it to the number of observations in that same area by example with modeling techniques or statistics), and to improve knowledge about mosquito dispersal pathways related to human mobility (that is, to better understand the relationship between how people move on a large scale and the dispersal of these species in the territory). This information is of great scientific interest. To avoid collection of the exact locations of volunteers, these locations are placed on a grid of 0.025 degrees latitude and longitude and only the identifier of the grid squares they fall into is transmitted to the server. Thus, it is impossible to determine the actual location, within an area of 0.025 degrees latitude by 0.025 degrees longitude (between about 3.1 and about 7.7 square km, or between 765 and 1901 football fields). In any case, volunteers can deactivate this option, activated by default, in the application settings.
- Information about the phone model, battery, language settings, and the app version (that is, the version installed and the operating system and version in which it is installed). This information is used to help the research team improve the application.
- If the volunteer chooses to authenticate through an external account using Firebase, then Firebase may collect the email address, password, phone number, IP address and other information associated with that external account.