Tracing Apps and the Stockholm Syndrome

By Efi Pylarinou - Apr 08, 2020
Tracing Apps and the Stockholm Syndrome

As Europe is preparing to go live with a pan-European Tracing app, which is designed on the same principals of Singapore’s TraceTogether app; we all realize that technology can actually be launched and go to market fast (if needed).

The PEPP-PT (Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing) initiative brings together more than 130 researchers from eight countries and is moving fast. They have already published a white paper covering their approach.

Singapore`s Government digital services on the other hand, is already 4 yrs old and has developed a narrative focused on `Helping Citizens`

One idea at a time
One Line code at a time
One pixel at a time

The Singapore government digitalization started in 2016 with an announcement to launch the Government Tech Agency

Here’s how Singapore plans to make its services as easy as Facebook Connect.

A long-term plan to digitize the functions of governance and public life.

Singapore has already two kinds of digital IDs

CorpPass, a digital identity to do business efficiently and safely online with the government.

MyInfo simplifies banking transactions by eliminating the need to re-produce documents for verification.

I picked the Singaporean example of GovTech led digitalization (there are other well publicized ones, like Estonia) because in these `never seen before` circumstances they were able swiftly to launch three new services


A community driven contact tracing app to help during the COVID19 spread. Own your data and use Bluetooth P2P communications to share your close contacts. Give permission to the Ministry of Health to quickly reach out to your close contacts if you are a COVID-19 patient.TraceTogether aims to protect families and communities, and stop the spread of COVID-19.


An app to use your zip code and get info on mask distribution points


An app to facilitate the following: If diagnosed with any respiratory illness (even just a cold) you get full subsidy for medical treatment

A cross border European tracing app is a first for all of us and I doubt that America will find the time to launch one in this crisis as they are busy printing and disbursing money with a hugely outdated payment system.

In an ideal world and if we had time, we would all have liked to have had already the decentralized infrastructure with self-sovereign identities in place.

Given the current reality, we need to be mindful of the biggest risk for us all - all citizens- which is to fall prey to the Stockholm Syndrome.

As hostages of the Coronavirus, we develop sympathy to all surveillance tools that allow us to eventually get rid of this captivity. Once the Coronavirus crisis is over, we stay captive to the surveillance tools and the Stockholm Syndrome. We `willingly` change our values and morals because of the scary experience. We actually feel a kind of gratitude towards those that developed and offered us the surveillance tools, because they were lifesaving at the time.

An early version and variation on this topic appeared on Medium `Govtech to Trace, FUD, and the Stockholm Syndrome. Dr. Efi Pylarinou is a recognized Fintech & Blockchain thought leader (

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