European countries have been upset at Apple for making it harder for them to get their own contact tracing platforms up and running on the iPhone. These countries want to use Bluetooth to keep track of the phones that pass by the vicinity of other devices. This way, smartphone users will know if they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Apple won’t back down and change its iPhone settings to allow data to be sent to a centralized server
The minister also stated that France’s “StopCovid” contact tracing app will be ready to go on June 2nd regardless of what Apple does. Testing will begin next Monday, May 11th. That happens to be the date when the country will officially start to reopen from its lockdown. In the country, Android is the leading mobile operating system with a 78.8% share. Apple’s iOS is next with 21.1%. Since Android phones don’t have the same restrictions, France feels confident to go ahead with its plans anyway.
Last month more than 300 professors from around the world signed an open letter that said while Bluetooth based contact tracing is strongly 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, whilst others would enable (via mission creep) a form of government or private sector surveillance that would catastrophically hamper trust in and acceptance of such an application by society at large. It is crucial that citizens trust the applications in order to produce sufficient uptake to make a difference in tackling the crisis. It is vital that, in coming out of the current crisis, we do not create a tool that enables large scale data collection on the population, either now or at a later time. Thus, solutions which allow reconstructing invasive information about the population should be rejected without further discussion.Such information can include the “social graph” of who someone has physically met over a period of time.”