Announced a series of integrated tools that will allow to track the proximity of people. Access will only be granted to health authorities “and citizens will always be able to decide not to join”
APPLE AND GOOGLE join forces to fight Coronavirus. The two giants of Silicon Valley who hold the mobile operating systems market, 27% the first and 72% the second, had already announced the collaboration and now explain what their idea will consist of in detail to help contain the spread of the virus.
Coronavirus, Google-Apple alliance for tracking infections
Nothing new in reality: it is a matter of taking advantage of the “contact tracing”, that is the possibility through the information provided by the smartphone’s bluetooth, but with a series of new tools that allow communication between the two different platforms. There are currently several interoperability problems that give rise to errors and malfunctions of the various apps used to combat the pandemic.
The two multinationals are therefore preparing a new version of iOs and Android with APIs (application programming interface) that eliminate the current obstacles. Apple and Google, they want to emphasize it, will do everything transparently and users will always be able to decide whether or not to activate these solutions.
In addition to the bees, they imagine a phase two, a real software device integrated with the operating systems to measure the distance between people and capable of interacting with governmental or health authority apps. It will not use GPS geolocation because it is judged to be inaccurate, instead it focuses on low-power bluetooth to establish the real proximity and time frame of any meetings.
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So let’s assume that two people chatted on the street and one of the two a few days later started to show the first symptoms. After communicating its status to the official app, the system will warn the first person of possible contagion while maintaining anonymity. The same thing will happen later, once the test result is obtained.
Only the authorities appointed by the various governments will be able to exploit the new bees. And if they decide that their “contact tracing” app is mandatory as if it were a vaccine, Apple and Google will adapt. In that case, the only choice for those who do not want to join would be to not update the operating system.
Both Apple and Google say they are confident that such a solution can be useful even now to keep the pandemic under control despite it is already widespread and they promise that this is only the first step of the collaboration.
In the meantime, the European Commission has just published a series of recommendations on the subject for a common approach in the EU. We want to avoid the proliferation of different methods and technologies in a digital market that is already unique and has common rules. Commissioner for the internal market Thierry Breton and Justice Didier Reynders therefore proposed “a joint toolbox towards a coordinated approach for the use of smartphone apps that comply with EU data protection standards”. In a few days we will know if the Apple and Google initiative will be judged compatible.