European countries have been upset by Apple for making it harder for them to set up their own iPhone contact tracking platforms. These countries want to use Bluetooth to keep track of phones that pass near other devices. In this way, smartphone users will know if they have been in close contact with a person tested positive for COVID-19.
The problem with using Bluetooth is that Apple would have to change the iPhone settings. Currently, Apple is preventing apps from using Bluetooth if it is running in the background and the data for that particular app is deleted from the device. Since Europeans want data collected through Bluetooth contact tracing to be sent to a centralized server, this would violate Apple’s rules. France, for example, wants Bluetooth to continue working in the background even if the data collected is sent to a centralized server. For that to happen, Apple would have to change certain iPhone settings, which it is loath to do. Allowing Bluetooth to run in the background for contact tracing will drain a user’s iPhone battery.
Apple will not back down or change its iPhone settings to allow data to be sent to a centralized server
French Digital Minister Cédric O said in a television appearance, “Apple could have helped us run the app even better on the iPhone. They didn’t want to do it. I regret it, given that we are in a period when everyone is mobilized to fight the epidemic, and given that a big company which is doing so economically well is not helping a government in this crisis. We will remember when the time is right. “While O could not guess what could be behind Apple’s decision not to make the necessary changes, the minister added,” We believe that monitoring the health care system, combating the coronavirus, is the responsibility of governments, not necessarily the great Americans. businesses. “
France to start testing its contact tracking system on May 11 with or without Apple
The minister also said that France’s “StopCovid” contact search application would be ready to run on June 2, regardless of what Apple is doing. The tests will start on Monday May 11. As it happens, this is the date when the country will officially start reopening. In the country, Android is the leading mobile operating system with a share of 78.8%. Apple’s IOS is next with 21.1%. Since Android phones don’t have the same restrictions, France is confident of continuing its plans anyway.
However, Germany gave in to Apple and decided not to use a centralized storage method called Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT) for tracking COVID-19 contacts. Britain started testing its contact tracking application today and has decided to take the centralized route like France.
Last month, more than 300 professors from around the world signed an open letter stating that while Bluetooth-based contact tracing is highly preferred, the centralized approach could lead to unprecedented government surveillance. In the letter, the professors wrote: “Some of the Bluetooth-based proposals respect the individual’s right to privacy, while others would allow (via mission swipe) some form of government or private sector surveillance which would catastrophically hamper trust and acceptance of such an application by society as a whole. It is essential that citizens trust apps in order to generate sufficient adoption to make a difference in the fight against the crisis. It is essential that, to get out of the current crisis, we are not creating a tool that allows large-scale data collection on the population, now or at a later date. Thus, solutions that allow reconstructing invasive population information should be rejected without further discussion. This information may include the “social graph” of the person who met physically over a period of time. “