Apple and Google announce Bluetooth coronavirus case tracking system

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Google and Apple have announced the creation of a joint system that will follow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus using Bluetooth technology and special applications built into Android and iOS smartphones. Description of the future business system published in their blogs. They posted links to the versions on Twitter by Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

The new system will use Bluetooth wireless technology, which has a short-range, and applications approved by health authorities. These applications will collect data on the exchange of Bluetooth signals with other smartphones, creating a kind of user contact card. If he passes a positive test for the coronavirus, he can show this in the application, after which the system will send notifications on the potential risk of infection to other connected users next to the infected. They assume that the use of the system will be voluntary.
Apple and Google plan to release the system API for Android and iOS in mid-May, after which authorities in different countries can implement them in their apps. To join the surveillance system, users will need to download and install the app, but later companies plan to create new features in Android and iOS.

According to The Verge, in theory, such a system can be effective in controlling the spread of the coronavirus, however, the use of digital surveillance methods for these purposes creates potential threats to privacy. It should be noted that the use of Bluetooth technology does not allow you to track the specific location of key exchange events between devices located close to each other and, in theory, does not allow you to identify people – when you receive a notification about recent contact with an infected user, you will not be able to know exactly who could have exceeded it. the virus. In addition, the system will not have a centralized list of infected people.

However, the method proposed by Apple and Google for tracking contacts with coronavirus carriers has obvious drawbacks. Thus, the system, judging by the description, will not make a difference between ephemeral contact on the street or a long stay in a room, which carries a much higher risk of infection. The system can also react in the event of an exchange of keys between healthy and infected smartphones were in neighboring premises but isolated from each other – in this case, the notification received will create an alarm reason additional.

This gesture comes from the two American giants, after the country entered a war with the global epidemic that has so far claimed more than 500,000 casualties in America alone, and nearly 30,000 people.