By now, you’ve probably heard about Apple and Google’s master plan to take over the world rid the planet of COVID-19. Both iOS and Android devices will create a database of people who have been near you. This will be accomplished using Bluetooth LE and anonymous identifiers that will change frequently to prevent anyone from matching numbers and code with names. The database will collect this information over a rolling two-week period and keep this data on users’ phones.
Germany decided to follow Apple and Google’s system after Apple refused to change the settings on its handsets
After Google and Apple announced their plan on April 10th, some countries in Europe like Germany rejected the plan. While most countries in Europe don’t mind that Bluetooth LE is being used to allow mobile devices to exchange information anonymously, they are not in agreement about where this data should be stored. Apple and Google’s system stores the collected data on iPhone and Android devices and most European countries prefer that the information be stored in a central server. This would allow specialized teams to make calls and knock on doors to warn people who were in the vicinity of someone who has tested positive for the virus.
German Chancellery Minister Helge Braun and Health Minister Jens Spahn said in a joint statement that Berlin would now adopt a “decentralized” approached to contact tracing. In their statement Braun and Spahn said, “This app should be voluntary, meet data protection standards and guarantee a high level of IT security. The main epidemiological goal is to recognize and break chains of infection as soon as possible.” In a separate interview Braun further stated, “We will back a decentralized architecture that will only store contacts on devices. That is good for trust.” While politicians at first preferred the centralized approach, last Monday hundreds of scientists wrote in an open letter that if the contact tracing data were to be centralized, it would result in “unprecedented surveillance of society at large.”
Not all European countries are giving in to Apple and Google. France and Britain still prefer the centralized approach.