After weeks of controversy over digital freedoms and respect for privacy, France launches TuesdayStopCovid, a sanitation tracking application. It will be followed by other states in Europe. Around the world of tracking software, more or less intrusive depending on the country.
“StopCovidcontribute to your protection and the protection of others” can be read in the description of the platform. While France enters a new phase of deconfinance on Tuesday, June 2, at noon, the government is launching this application that will allow people to be contaminated by the new corona virus. Like other countries affected by Covid-19, France uses a smartphone tracking tool to restrict the spread of the virus.
The French Government has stated that the operation of StopCovid is “non-identifying” and “temporary”. The installation is optional and the application uses the device’s Bluetooth functionality – not GPS – to alert its users when they have encountered an infected person.
The use of such technology was discussed in Europe and elsewhere. It is based on personal data whose use and utilization varies from country to country. In France, defenders of digital freedoms point to “legitimizing the monitoring of our bodies in the public domain”, as the association condemnsSquares the net.
Thirty countries have used sanitary tracking techniques for several weeks, on different scales of intrusion and coercion.
In China, where a population ranking system has been implemented for two years, individuals are sorted according to a color code with an application developed by online trading giant Alibaba. From the end of February, Alipay Health Code will grant each user a green, yellow or red QR code depending on their geolocation data.
A person who has visited a person or place that is considered risky is assigned a yellow or red QR code. In several cities, such as Hangzhou, travel is provided if you get the color green.
TheNew York Timeshas scaled the application’s computer code. It turns out that the tool transmits information to the Chinese police, enabling them to identify and geographically locate a user.
South Korea is one of the first countries to be hit by a wave of contaminants. She is also among those who have avoided general containment by introducing GPS tracking on her nearly 10,000 patients. Telephone operators provided geolocation of patients directly to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Today, the authorities are monitoring quarantined people in real time. According to AFP, a criminal was sentenced to four months in prison at the end of May.
The Israeli internal security service Shin Bet has been authorized by the government to organize digital surveillance of the spread of the new coronavirus and has thus developed a program to monitor infected persons with GPS data from their phones but also by tracking their credit cards.
The program, which does not use a specific smartphone application, has sparked controversy in Israel, especially since Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet wanted to anchor it in Israeli law. On May 27, the Israeli Supreme Court decided to allow further projects. Parliament must now approve the use “in special cases”.
The Singaporean tracking application TraceTogether has been downloaded by just under a quarter of the population, or 1.5 million people. However, a study from the University of Singapore had found that the population was ready to “agree to give up some privacy to fight Covid-19”. Then 1your June, some immigrants, especially those living in dormitories,has the obligation to connect to TraceTogether.
The authorities have also launched the SoftEntry portal. A QR code generator that only provides access to certain public places by providing personal information.
The application of the British Health System (NHS), similar to the French system, was tested for three weeks on the Isle of Wight, on the English Channel, on a voluntary basis. Each user, and therefore each passer-by, has a series of numbers as the only identifying information. This code is exchanged between smartphones when two people cross and it is stored in their phones for 28 days.
According to the newspaperthread, the application is programmed for a very limited function. “Nothing happens except when one of the users reports that he has symptoms of coronavirus,” the publication said. Among the data collected: “the first digits of the zip code”, “the type of telephone used” and “the strength of the Bluetooth signal”.
The British and French approach is said to be “centralized” because the anonymized data stored is stored on central servers. On the Isle of Wight, beginning in June in the rest of the UK, this information is sent to the NHS, which decides whether a warning to other smartphones that are crossed over a longer period of time is necessary.
Another method of Covid-19 tracking software, known as “decentralized”, is to store data only in users’ smartphones. This is the case with the Immuni application, developed by the company Bending Spoons, which will be launched in Italy in June.
Even based on Bluetooth technology, it is different to alert users. The application is responsible for automatically notifying users that there has been contact with an infected code, without going through the healthcare system.
If this method allows to evoke the fear of the “Big Brother” type, it worries about its dependence on Apple and Google, the two giants have proposed a common solution of social tracking on the decentralized model. Paris had refused this option and raised a question of “national sovereignty”. Germany, for its part, ranked behind the decentralized model, like most European countries.
In Italy, Francesco Paolo Micozzi, lecturer on digital technology at the University of Perugia, explained the device’s limits to AFP: in order for the Immuni application to be truly effective, it must be downloaded by 60% of Italians … or practically all smartphone owners in country.