Apps and Covid-19

Considering the billions of people who have smart phones generally use apps on these devices, it's possible to reach people and draw extensive data from their devices.

PI has been repeatedly exposing how smartphone apps can put users' privacy and security at risk. For instance we revealed how popular non-Facebook apps leak data to Facebook beyond the user's control or knowledge. We recently revealed similar levels of exploitation by menstruation apps.

The reality is that smartphones are highly complex interactions between hardware (chips and processors and storage and antennas), operating systems (generally Apple and Google), app stores (Apple and Google again), platforms (analytics companies and social media companies), and the apps themselves.

China was an early mover on apps: people were required to install the Alipay Health Code app, fill in personal details, and then were issued with a QR code with one of three colours denoting quarantining status. The app reportedly shared location data with the police. 

Using apps in the context of Covid-19 is useful to the general public to help people to report their symptoms and to learn about the virus and the health response. Apps are now being explored to trace contacts through interaction and proximity analysis. 

They are also being explored as quarantining enforcement tools, monitoring location and interactions. In this context, they are not necessarily voluntary tools.

The apps can help you report, generate data without your involvement, or lift data from your device. The apps can store the data locally or send the data to servers. And they can leak data to analytics firms and social media platforms.

So the Norwegian health app stores location data for 30 days on a centralised server. The Colombian app asks people to provide their data and answer questions about participation at protests and ethnicity. 

The apps are generally poorly spread. The Singapore app apparently has been downloaded only by 13% of the population. The UK is aiming for at least 50% of the population with their app.  This is because they are mostly voluntary at the moment.

Even when 'voluntary', compulsory data entry varies. In Argentina the app for self-diagnosis requires people to include their National ID, email and phone number. 

We are concerned that the voluntary nature of these apps will be rescinded for travellers and when borders are re-opened. Yet meanwhile, according to reports from  Thailand, SIM cards and apps were provided to every foreigner and travelling Thai, expecting this data to report on their locations; and Hong Kong is using bracelets with an app on people under compulsory quarantine and shares their location with government over messaging platforms.

It's in this context that apps like the one developed for Home Quarantining by the Polish government. It requires phone numbers, reference photos, and regular check-ins. South Korea's app uses GPS to track locations to ensure against quarantine breach, sending alerts if people leave designated areas.

Finally, there is the ever-present monitoring that goes on as part of commercial exploitation. Facebook, Google, and analytics companies have been accumulating location data for years, sometimes in great detail and sometimes in aggregate.

Some apps are exploring storing limited data. Argentina's CoTrack, MIT Media Lab, and Oxford University's apps appear to collect location and proximity data on the device and share only with consent and with no identifying data.

20 Jul 2020
In early July the Open Rights Group issued a pre-action legal letter to UK health secretary Matt Hancock and the Department of Health and Social Care saying they have breached requirements under the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR by failing to conduct an impact assessment for the Test and Trace
10 Jul 2020
In order to reopen borders and restart travel and trade, the East African Community is working with Switzerland-based The Commons Project, a public trust that builds digital services for public good in order to develop an app called CommonPass. The app, which will be designed in a July sprint, will
26 Jun 2020
TrustNet Pakistan, the country’s only digital trust foundation, has begun work alongside many other global technology companies on a digital vaccination verification platform called CovidCreds. The initiative supports projects that use privacy-preserving verifiable credentials. TrustNet is working
08 May 2020
The Canary Islands sought to become the first destination for a coronavirus-free flight as part of a digital health passport pilot project backed by the World Health Organisation. Via the Hi+Card secure health mobile app that certifies they do not have COVID-19, each passenger will have a unique
23 Apr 2020
Blockchain timestamping supplier Guardtime, French health data manager OpenHealth, and Swiss authentication and tracing technologies company SICPA Group have jointly proposed the COVID-19 secured immunity passport. The proposed immunity passport would serve as the basis for real-time monitoring of a
10 Apr 2020
Premier League football has set up a COVID-19 testing programme that it says should soon allow socially-distanced fans to return to stadiums using technology from a company called Prenetics, which is also delivering testing for the England cricket team. Prenetics’ digital health passport links an
25 May 2020
EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides told health ministers in late May that they could not count on immunity certification when lifting cross-border travel restrictions within the EU. Prevention measures such as physical distancing, robust testing strategies, and ensuring health care capacity
24 Jun 2020
The UN’s Economic Commission for Africa has launched the Africa Communication and Information Platform for Health and Economic Action thta will use AI and big data to provide two-way communication between citizens and health authorities. It will launch in 36 countries, with more to come as others
25 May 2020
Anger spread across Chinese social media after officials in the eastern city of Hangzhou suggested they would create a permanent version of its smartphone-based health rating app, developed with help from Alibaba, to curb coronavirus spread. Shortly before, Baidu’s chief executive proposed new rules
11 Jun 2020
A detailed analysis of Pakistan’s app, which was developed by the Ministry of IT and Telecom and the National Information Technology Board and which offers dashboards for each province and state, self-assessment tools, and popup hygiene reminders, finds a number of security issues. Among them: the
15 Jun 2020
After the data protection authority ruled that Norway’s Smittestopp app disproportionately intruded on users’ privacy by collecting location data without demonstrating it was strictly necessary and by failing to allow users to separately grant permission for contact tracing and for using the data
13 Jun 2020
The UK government spent two months touting its contact tracing app as the prospective basis for returning to something close to normality. As the June 1 target date approached, however, the government increasingly downplayed its importance. In the meantime, Apple and Google’s API were adopted by
20 May 2020
After the CEO of NHSx told the the UK parliament that data harvested by the NHSx contact tracing app would be retained for future research, the UK Ministry of Defence said it would turn the data over to its Jhub to sanitise the data and remove all personally identifying information before passing it
26 Jun 2020
Germany’s “Corona-Warn” contact tracing app amassed 6.5 million users (7.8% of the German population) in the first 24 hours after its June 16 launch despite setbacks that included disputes over data privacy and functionality. The app was developed in six weeks by a team of developers and engineers
09 Jun 2020
Russian authorities are considering introducing an app that migrant workers will be required to download when they enter the country. Leaked details indicate that the app would contain detailed biometric data, health status, police records, and a “social trustworthiness” rating. It’s unclear whether
05 Jun 2020
After problems with its TraceTogether contact tracing app, Singapore is planning a comprehensive contact tracing system in which it will distribute to all its 5.7 million residents a wearable device that will identify people who have interacted with people carrying the coronavirus. The devices can
03 Jun 2020
The lack of data protection laws and the absence of a privacy commission are contributing factors to Pakistan’s failure to investigate or remedy security flaws in the country’s recently-launched COVID-19 tracking technology, which partially depends on a system originally developed to combat
01 Jun 2020
Italy has launched Immuni, one of the first contact tracing apps based on the Apple-Google API. The app is opt-in, and includes an explanation of the privacy and security measures in its setup. The app collects anonymously bluetooth tokens that are automatically randomised, but does not collect GPS
13 May 2020
The Slovak Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional parts of the newly amended telecommunication law that permitted state authorities to access telcommunications data for the purposes of contact tracing. The parliament approved the legislation in March, but the court ruled that the need for
12 May 2020
Any user of India's Aaorgya Setu contact tracing app can now request deletion of the data they've entered according to the Aaorgya Seta Emergency Data Access and Knowledge Sharing Protocol, 2020, which specifies the definition, collection, processing, and storage of the data the app collects. The
28 Apr 2020
Many of the technologies used to combat the coronavirus pandemic, including monitoring and analysing social media posts, telecommunications location data, and the use of sensors, were first tested on refugees during the 2015 crisis and are now being repurposed in the name of public health. In 2019
01 Apr 2020

The Myanmar Ministry of Union Government Office, Ministreay Health and Sports, Ministry of Transport and Communications, and youth tech expert Ko Htoo Myint Naung have collaborated on a mobile app to monitor people ordered to quarantine, adapted from other similar apps developed in countries such as South Korea. The app, which is available in Myanmar and English, allows both citizens and foreign residents to report on their health condition. Mobile operators will provide free SIM cards and 1GB of internet data for people under quarantine. A database of all registered and quarantined people will be used to build appropriate action plans.

Writer:  Myanmar News Agency
Publication: Global New Light of Myanmar
 

13 May 2020
In designing its Healthy Together contact tracing app, the US state of Utah opted for a GPS and Bluetooth-based design created by social media startup Twenty; it does not use the Google-Apple API. The goal is for the app to assist the 1,200 Utah Department of Health workers who are doing phone call
20 May 2020
In its final report, the expert group appointed by the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services to assess the security and privacy of the country's COVID-19 contact tracing app, "Smittestopp", concluded that the app handles neither responsibly. The group recommended removing all data once it's
18 May 2020
France, like the UK, opted to develop its own contact tracing app. "StopCovid", using a centralised design developed by the Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proxity Tracing (PEPP-PT) group, which created a framework called ROBust and the privacy-presERving proximity Tracing protocol (ROBERT). French
19 May 2020

Security researchers have found seven problems with the NHSx contact tracing app including: weaknesses in registration that could allow attackers to steal encryption keys; storing unencrypted data on handsets; generating a new random ID code only once a day; and design decisions with respect to Bluetooth connections that could enable tracking. These questions are independent of whether the app is centralised or decentralised.

Writer: BBC; Chris Culnane and Vanessa Teague
Publication: BBC; State of IT
 

30 Apr 2020
INTERNETLAB offers an extensive analysis of all the eight different Covid-19 related apps being discussed in Brazil at the moment. Apps were rated according to four parameters: consent, need, transparency and security. Besides this, the organisation takes a look into what permissions which app has
21 May 2020
Immunity passports are likely to increase discrimination and threaten fairness and public health - and won't work for practical reasons. First and foremost, scientists do not yet know whether infection confers immunity or for how long; the serological tests so far developed are insufficiently
21 May 2020

In an analysis, the smartphone privacy company Jumbo Privacy finds that Care19, North Dakota's official COVID-19 contact tracing app, sends latitude and longitude data and a unique user advertising identifier to Foursquare and other data to Google servers and the bug-tracking Bugfender. The app's privacy policy does not disclose this third-party sharing. The app development company, ProudCrowd, said it would update the privacy policy and that the data-sharing agreement does not allow Foursquare to collect or use the Care19 data beyond returning the names of nearby businesses. North Dakota officials say future versions of the app will incorporate Apple-Google's new Exposure Notification API.



Writer: Steven Melendez
Publication: Fast Company

 

08 Jun 2020
It's been two months since the launch of "Perú en us manos", the mobile app promoted by the Peruvian government amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Until now the app did not accomplish the ambitious goals it set out to. On its first month the app had detected 1400 risk zones while there where already 36
Singapore has launched a new FWMOMCare mobile app for workers to record daily symptoms and report their health status. Reporting symptoms prompts the worker to seek medical assistance; a doctor will also be alerted and call the worker within 30 minutes for a teleconsultation. Employers are told to
26 May 2020
China is adding new features to its coronavirus surveillance app, which has helped many workers and employers return to their former lives, and looks likely to become a permanent fixture. Zhou Jiangyong, the Communist Party secretary of the eastern city of Hangzhou, has said the city's app, which it
28 May 2020
The Chinese city of Hangzhou is considering making the app it requires residents to download and install for the COVID-19 crisis and that controls whether and where residents may travel a permanent fixture to create a "firewall to enhance people's health and immunity". Other countries may follow
21 May 2020
Technical flaws in Moscow's app, intended to track people with COVID-19 and symptoms of other respiratory diseases, led the authorities to wrongly fine hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of people, alleging they had breached self-quarantine. The app was originally launched at the end of March, but
27 May 2020
The lower house of the French parliament paved the way for the launch of the government's independently-developed contact tracing app. The minister in charge, technology minister Cedric O, praised the app, developed by companies such as Orange and Dassault Systemes, as a French project "with the
25 May 2020
As part of a survey of the human rights compliance of contact tracing apps Amnesty International's Security Lab discovered that security vulnerabilities in Qatar's mandatory contact tracing app, EHTERAZ, would have allowed attackers to access the personal information, including name, national ID
23 May 2020
Contact tracing apps will only work effectively if people trust them and install them in sufficient numbers. Soon after its launch, however, the North Dakota contact tracing app people were already dropping it after posting complaints in the Google App store. In a survey of 798 Americans
26 May 2020
NHS Digital has added facial recognition to its app, which allows people to order prescriptions, book appointments, and find health care data, in hopes it will also be usable as an "immunity passport" once at-home testing becomes available. The NHS facial recognition system was built by iProov, and
05 Jun 2020
Estonia has begun testing its Immuunsuspass app, which was developed for the Back to Work NGO by the Estonian technology firms Transferwise and Guardtime working with health specialists. The app, which is intended to help schools and employers make decisions, will have to pass scientific consensus
25 May 2020
Latvia became one of the first countries to use Apple's and Google's new joint toolkit to launch a smartphone contact tracing app, Apturi Covid. For now, the app will only work for Latvia's 2 million citizens, but the intention is that it should interoperate with the apps other countries to aid
27 May 2020
An Ipsos MORI survey conducted on May 20-22 found generally high levels of compliance with lockdown restrictions, though many were suffering. While roughly three-quarters were confident they could download and operate a contact tracing app and would be willing to comply with its recommendations
News & Analysis

We, alongside 6 other organisations, have sent a letter to the government asking them to reconsider the design of the UK NHSx Covid-19 track and trace app.

We are seriously concerned that the app will create exlusion and enhance existing discrimination, gather incomplete data, and won't be as effective as it could be in tackling this virus.

Video

A quick catch-up on the state of play of apps round the world - though we end up mostly discussing India and the UK - and we celebrate a very special birthday.

03 May 2020
Only 16% of Australians had downloaded the country's COVIDSafe app by May 3, a week after its launch on April 26, even though most said they support the federal government's coronavirus contact tracing app. In an Ipsos poll, 80% of those who said they were unlikely to download the app cited privacy
05 May 2020
A parliamentary panel granted Israel's Shin Bet security service an additional three weeks to use mobile phone data to track people infected with the coronavirus; prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had requested a six-week extension while his government drafts legislation to regulate the data use in
02 May 2020
A security lapse exposed one of the core databases of the coronavirus self-test symptom checker app launched by India's largest cellphone network, Jio, shortly before the government lockdown began in late March. The database, which had no password protection and contained millions of logs and
11 May 2020
Authorities in South Korea, which had been successful in containing the coronavirus early on due to its aggressive testing programme, began trying to trace more than 5,500 people who visited a group of bars between April 2 and May 6 because a single infected customer led to a new outbreak. More than
06 May 2020
Shortly after launch, security researcher Baptiste Robert discovered that India's contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu ("Health Bridge"), allows users to spoof their GPS location, find out how many people reported themselves as infected within any 500-metre radius, and mount a triangulation attack to
07 May 2020
In a technical analysis of the UK NHSx contact tracing app for iOS, security engineers find that Apple's Bluetooth design makes it harder to detect iPhones running the app in background mode, and the app is using "keepalive" notifications in order to keep the app able to make the necessary
16 Apr 2020
Moscow's first attempts to introduce digital methods by which residents could obtain digital passes to move around the city failed as the website collapsed numerous times and the app required them to get a pass for every single move rather than only to drive a car, as the government has stated. City
20 Mar 2020
The global pandemic that has been declared by COVID-19 is already affecting countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Recognizing the seriousness of this health crisis and the legal possibility for governments to take exceptional measures to control the pandemic, it is essential to remember that
22 Apr 2020
Our partners from Unwanted Witness in Uganda wrote a formal letter to the Ministry of Information Communications Technology and National Guidance demanding for strict observance of human rights for any intended use of surveillance technologies to fight COVID-19. In a letter addressed to the
07 Apr 2020
Our partners from SMEX in Lebanon analysed surveillance measures in the country. Lebanon, like many other countries, has launched digital tools to help diagnose and monitor the spread of the outbreak. The tools launched by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) do not appear to harvest data
14 Apr 2020
Our partners from Hiperderecho in Peru proposed 15 measures to improve the COVID-19 app that the Peruvian Government is rolling out in the country (in Spanish). Link: https://hiperderecho.org/2020/04/quince-propuestas-para-mejorar-la-aplicacion-del-gobierno-del-covid-19/
22 Apr 2020
Our partners from Tedic in Paraguay analysed a government proposal to use drones to enforce the lockdown measures in that country (in Spanish). Link: https://www.tedic.org/uso-de-drones-covid19/
21 Apr 2020
The French government asked Apple to change the way its phones handle Bluetooth in order to accommodate the design of its contact tracing app. Downloading and installing the app will be voluntary, but the app will use a centralised design in which the data will be fed into a government server for
02 May 2020
At least 27 countries are using data from cellphone companies to track the movements of their citizens, and at least 30 have developed smartphone apps for the public to download. Fewer objections have been raised in countries with greater levels of success in containing the virus. However, although
21 Apr 2020
Our partners from Karisma in Colombia analysed three different technological solutions intending to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, finding vulnerabilities in them (in Spanish). Link: https://web.karisma.org.co/que-sabemos-de-las-tres-herramientas-que-se-anuncian-como-soluciones-tecnologicas-para
06 Apr 2020
Our partners from Fundación Datos Protegidos in Chile also reacted to the Chilean Government App to handle the COVID-19 situation, and listed a series of critical regulatory points, demanding a multistakeholder instance to discuss them. Link: https://datosprotegidos.org/declaracion-de-fundacion
16 Apr 2020
Our partners from Derechos Digitales analysed the Chilean Government App to respond to the Corona Virus, saying that it will likely be useless and infringing on existing privacy rights (in Spanish) Link: https://www.derechosdigitales.org/14387/coronapp-la-inutilidad-del-atajo-tecnologico-desplegado
24 Apr 2020
The Pakistani government has repurposed a system designed by the country's spy agency, inter-Services Intelligence for tracking down terrorists to trace suspected COVID-19 cases. Prime minister Imran Khan has said that efficient tracking and testing of coronavirus-infected people is the only way to
29 Apr 2020
Numerous efforts to create apps to help monitor and map the spread of COVID-19 rely on satnav-based location data from Galileo. The CovTrack app developed on a pro-bono basis by the Romanian company RISE, for example, uses Bluetooth connections between mobile phones to store identification data the
30 Apr 2020
Researchers at the University of Cape Town are developing the smartphone app COVI-ID to help the South African government track people who may not know they have contracted COVID-19, as well as people who have come into contact with those who have tested positive. The app will use Bluetooth and
30 Apr 2020
Sweden's Lund University has launched an app intended to map the spread of the coronavirus across Sweden, a localised version of the JoinZOE COVID Symptom Tracker app pioneered in the UK, which the researchers believe could be coupled with seroprovalence testing in order to develop an accurate map
30 Apr 2020
The central Thailand province of Chachoengsao has launched Mor Channa, a COVID-19 tracking mobile phone app, to help individuals assess whether they are in a high-risk area for COVID-19. Energy Absolute PLC, one of the companies that helped develop the app, believes that the app's tracking system
19 Apr 2020
Turkey's Health Ministry has launched a smartphone app that allows people to self-report symptoms, provides information on nearby hospitals, pharmacies, supermarkets, and public transport stops, detects if the user has come into contact with others who pose a risk, and provides up-to-date
17 Apr 2020
Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health has released a new mobile app, "Stay Home", to ensure those asked to self-quarantine are abiding by the isolation rules. Everyone subject to quarantine is expected to download the app and create a user name and password; the user must also grant access to camera
13 May 2020
More than 3 million people in the UK have downloaded the JoinZoe COVID Symptom Tracker, which was designed by doctors and scientists at King's College London, Guys and St Thomas' Hospitals working in partnership with the health science company ZOE Global Ltd and endorsed by governments and NHS in
26 Apr 2020
A reverse-engineering analysis of Vietnam's official Bluetooth-based contact tracing app, Bluezone, which was developed by a coalition of local technology companies and the Ministry of Information and Communications, shows that the app is broadcasting a fixed six-character ID the app assigned to
30 Apr 2020
The Indian authorities have said that the country's contact-tracing app, Aarogya Setu ("health bridge", in Sanskrit), will be voluntary - but mandatory for federal government employees, food delivery workers, and some other service providers. It may also be needed to access public transport and
05 Apr 2020
Every person placed in quarantine in Bahrain will be required to wear an electronic bracelet to ensure compliance. Mohammad Ali, head of electronic government, said that people fitted with the bracelets will have to stay within 15 metres of their mobile phones, which will be linked to the bracelets
30 Apr 2020
Two million people downloaded Australia's COVIDSafe app in the first four days it was available; the government's goal is to reach 10 million, or about 40% of the population. Users are asked for a (not necessarily real) name, age, mobile number, and postal code. The app exchanges a Bluetooth
22 Apr 2020
Police will be barred from accessing metadata collected by Australia's proposed coronavirus contact tracing app, which will be able to identify when users have been 1.5 metres of each other for more than 15 minutes, Australia's government services minister, Stuart Robert, and prime minister, Scott
24 Mar 2020
When the phone belonging to an American University student in Taiwan, who was subject to 14 days' quarantine after returning from Europe, ran out of battery power, in less than hour he had received phone calls from four different local administrative units, a text message notifying him he would be
21 Apr 2020
By May 11, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, working with EFPL and ETH Zurich, will launch a secure, decentralised system for contact tracing developed by the Decentralised Privacy-Preserving-Proximity Tracing (DP-3T) international consortium, whose Swiss partners are Ubique and
20 Apr 2020
A data breach that posted 100 to 200 names, email addresses, and encrypted passwords online was found in the Belgian Covid-19 Alert! app, one of seven candidates for adoption by the Dutch government. The app identifies phones that have been close to each other via Bluetooth signals and can send them
09 Apr 2020
Thousands of Israelis have been ordered into quarantine without any right of appeal based on cellphone tracking that may be wrong because phone geolocation is insufficiently fine-grained to tell the difference between two people being in the same room and being separated by a door when dropping off
26 Apr 2020
Three days after announcing Germany would adopt the centralised Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT) standard for contact tracing, the country's chancellery minister Helge Braun and health minister Jens Spahn announced they would instead use the decentralised approach backed
02 Jun 2020
While the agency that manages residence permits, the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, is closed, Israel has instructed Palestinians seeking to verify whether their permits to remain in Israel are still valid to download the app Al Munasiq, which grants the military access to
16 Apr 2020
North Macedonia is the first country in the Western Balkans to launch a contact-tracing app. The government has stressed that the Bluetooth-based app, StopKorona!, complies with all legal privacy requirements. The app follows a decentralised design, so that users maintain full control over their
15 Apr 2020
India's COVID-19 tracker app, Aarogya Setu, was downloaded 50 million times in the first 13 days it was available. Developed by the National Informatics Centre a subsidiary of the Ministry of Electronics and IT, the app is available on both Android and iOS smartphones, and uses GPS and Bluetooth to
15 Apr 2020
The Australian government's planned contact tracing app will reportedly be based on Singapore's TraceTogether, which relies on Bluetooth connections to detect other phones in range and log the results, so that if a phone user tests positive for COVID-19 and consents their close contacts can be
08 Apr 2020
Oura Rings, which measure body temperature and blood pulse volume to determine heart and respiratory rate and track sleep, are the subject of a national study being jointly conducted by the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, WVU Medicine, and Oura Health in hopes it can be
09 Apr 2020
The city of Moscow is planning to use smartphone geolocation functions to track foreign tourists' movements through the city to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 after Russia reopens its borders. Moscow accounts for two-thirds of all cases in the country. Moscow City Hall is considering a system that
09 Apr 2020
The Norwegian contact tracing app, Infection Stop, relies on a centralised database to store users' GPS locations for 30 days, like its Chinese counterpart. Sumula, the company that developed the app, claims is necessary because of technical limitations in Apple's smartphone operating system iOS
08 Apr 2020
The Kazakhstani ministry of health requires the 8,000 or so Kazakhstani citizens currently under quarantine to use the SmartAstana tracking app, which enables officials to ensure that they remain in isolation. By contrast, for the city of Almaty the ministry of the interior relies on video
24 Mar 2020
The Guatemalan government is using the app Alerta Guate to spread public health information, which was created by the Chicago-registered company In-telligent LLC. The app is allowed to collect each user's email address, social media account handles, age, personal interests, and geographic location
08 Apr 2020
Germany's federal agency responsible for disease control and prevention, the Robert Koch Institute, has teamed up with the health technology start-up Thryve to develop an app called Corona-Datenspende ("data donation") that works with a variety of smartwatches and fitness wristbands. The app is
08 Apr 2020
Anyone in Egypt who suspects they or others have COVID-19 is required to immediately report it to the authorities in order to stop the spread of the virus and enable treatment. On April 1 Ahmed Refaat, a member of the parliamentary Telecommunications Committee, submitted a proposal for creating an
09 Apr 2020
The Afghan Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology have launched the "corona.asan.gov.af" software to provide health advice in three English, Dari, and Pashto; using the questions embedded in the software users can evaluate themselves for the virus
10 Apr 2020
Apple and Google have announced a partnership to enable governments and health agencies to use Bluetooth for proximity-based contact tracing to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus while preserving user privacy and security. The effort is due to begin with the May release of APIs that
02 Apr 2020
New Zealand's lockdown protocol includes a system to allow the police to monitor the whereabouts of travellers returning home. On arrival at the border, incoming travellers are asked for a contact mobile number. Once Welfare has ensured they have suitable accommodation, they receive a text from NZ
30 Mar 2020
Authorities in the Kazakhstan cities of Astana and Almaty will require those ordered to mandatory quarantine to install the Smart Astana app and enable geolocation settings, wifi, and Bluetooth to make it possible to monitor them and ensure they move no more than 30 meters from their designated
31 Mar 2020
The Israeli defense minister, Naftali Bennett, has published a plan under which civilian companies including the controversial company NSO Group would cooperate with the defence establishment to fight the novel coronavirus after a sharp rise in reported cases indicated that existing methods of
31 Mar 2020
The State Disaster Management Authority of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, in collaboration with other government agencies, is developing tools to track the travel history of people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and those who are under quarantine at home. The COVID alerting
23 Mar 2020
The Indian medical AI start-up Qure.ai has released qScout, an AI-powered "virtual care platform". Intended to help governments, hospitals, and clinics, the qScout app is meant to identify high-risk individuals, assist with contact tracing, facilitate remote triage, read chest X-rays to identify
29 Mar 2020
The computer science department at IIT-Bombay has sent two proposals for mobile applications that can track quarantine violators to a variety of Indian public authorities including officials in the Ministry of Human Resource and Development, the Maharashtra state government, and the Brihanmumbai
30 Mar 2020
The Croatian government intends to enforce individual quarantine orders via a dedicated app, text message alerts, or location data provided by telecommunications companies. However, the government aims to comply with GDPR by targeting only those ordered into self-isolation and only tracking their
30 Mar 2020
The Argentinian company Urbetrack is developing a "Cuidate en casa" (Take Care of Yourself at Home) app that it will pitch to government agencies throughout the country. The goal is to contribute to remediating the health crisis by helping enforce quarantine. The plan is that users will download the
27 Mar 2020
As employees shift to working from home, their employers are buying and installing software to monitor them in their new location. Companies such as InterGuard, Time Doctor, Teramind, VeriClock, innerActiv, ActivTrak, and Hubstaff provide a combination of screen monitoring and productivity metrics
01 Apr 2020
Led by Germany's Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute for Telecoms, technologists and scientists from at least eight countries, are working on a proximity-based contact tracing technology that complies with GDPR. The Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing project (PEPP-PT) is intended to
27 Mar 2020
The company that makes the Natural Cycles women’s fertility app has added n optional service to allow users to track Covid-19 symptoms as well as positive and negative tests. As part of its fertility service, the app already takes each user’s basal body temperature daily; enabling the additional
30 Mar 2020
The San Francisco-based big data company Grandata has created a heat map to show which areas of Argentina are best complying with the quarantine lockdown. Grandata used an "anonymised" dataset collected from apps that provide third parties with geolocation information. The heat map shows if an
01 Apr 2020
On April 1, Iceland launched an app that uses GPS to locate people who may have been in close contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients. A message containing a download link for the app will be sent to all Icelanders; downloading it and then agreeing to disclose GPS data are both voluntary, but for
30 Mar 2020
Learning from countries like South Korea, government of the Indian state Karnataka has assigned its ten-member COVID-19 task force, which includes IAS officers with expertise in the fields of technology, medicine and healthcare, to develop a system to the approximately 40,000 people who visited
02 Apr 2020
The surveillance tool supplier Cy4Gate is pitching surveillance tools to track every citizen and their contacts to multiple governments around the world, including their own. In a demonstration of the system, Governments using the system, which Cy4Gate calls "Human Interaction Tracking System (HITS)
04 Apr 2020
Israel's controversial NSO Group, which makes spyware that governments have used to target journalists and human rights activists, says it's in talks with Western governments to use its software to track the spread of the coronavirus. A demonstration, governments themselves, rather than NSO Group
28 Mar 2020
The World Health Organization will partner with major blockchain and technology companies to launch a distributed ledger-based platform to be dubbed "MiPasa" that it says will facilitate "fully private information sharing between individuals, state authorities, and health institutions" by cross
06 Mar 2020
Although the alerts about contacts with people infected by the coronavirus sent out via SMS by the South Korean government do not include names, the information included about people who tested positive for coronavirus, and their past locations can be revealingly detailed in some cases. Those who
26 Mar 2020
In a widely circulated animated heat map, the geospatial visualisation company Tectonix GEO in partnership with the location technology company X-Mode used the secondary locations of anonymised mobile devices that were active on a single beach in in Ft Lauderdale, FL during spring break to show how
23 Mar 2020
Argentina's Public Prosecutor's Office will start installing an app on the smartphones of those who violate government-ordered quarantine in the cities of Santa Fé and Rosario. The app will be installed by the province's Criminal Investigation Agency to track those who are under criminal
23 Mar 2020
On March 23, Argentina's immigration agency, Dirección Nacional de Migraciones (DNM), announced that anyone arriving in the country would be required to install the free COVID-19 Ministry of Health app on their phone for 14 days to ensure they comply with quarantine rules in order to protect the
24 Mar 2020
Researchers at Germany's Robert Koch Institute and Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute are working on an app that uses Bluetooth connections between smartphones and is compliant with GDPR to anonymously save the distance and duration of contact between people on the smartphone to make it possible to
26 Mar 2020
Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Informatics/KOMINFO official website) On Thursday, 26 March 2020, the Indonesian Minister of Communication and Informatics, Johnny G. Plate, issued the Ministerial Decree No. 159/2000 to facilitate the cooperation between the Government and telecommunication
24 Mar 2020
The Israeli Ministry of Health's mobile app, "The Shield", is intended to alert users if they have been at a location in Israel at the same time as a known COVID-19 patient. The app, which is available for both Android and iOS, works by collecting the GPS and WiFi network (SSID) information of a
25 Mar 2020
A web form to screen COVID-19 cases developed by the Mexico City government collects a wide range of personal information such as name, age, telephone number, home address, social network username, and cellphone number. The privacy notice establishes that such data may be transferred to a vast array
24 Mar 2020
The success of South Korea's efforts to combat the coronavirus without a national lockdown and without suspending civil rights depended in part on preparation put in place after the 2015 MERS epidemic and in part on the country's network of private testing labs, which enabled the country to quickly
27 Mar 2020
Together with Norwegian company Simula the Norwegian Institute of Public Health is developping a voluntary app to track users geolocation and slow the spread of Covid-19. Running in the background, the app will collect GPS and Bluetooth location data and store them on a server for 30 days. If a user
14 Mar 2020
On March 14, the Peruvian government set up a website for individuals to check their symptoms so they can be directed towards sources of help. The web form asks for ID number, phone, email and home address. Source: https://www.gob.pe/coronavirus Writer: Peruvian government Publication: Peruvian
21 Mar 2020
The self-testing web app issued by Argentina's Secretariat of Public Innovation asks for national ID number, email and phone as mandatory fields in order to submit the test. The Android version requires numerous permissions: calendar, contacts, geolocation data (both network-based and GPS)
17 Mar 2020
At the MIT Media lab, Ramesh Raskar is leading a team that includes software engineers at companies such as Facebook and Uber to develop the free and open source app Private Kit: Safe Paths. The app is intended to share encrypted information between phones in the network without going through a
22 Mar 2020
After Asian countries used mass surveillance of smartphones to trace contacts and halt the spread of the coronavirus, Western countries such as the UK and Germany are trying to find less-invasive ways to use phones to collect and share data about infections that would work within data privacy laws
19 Mar 2020
Facebook's scientists are analysing location data about compliance with social distancing recommendations in various countries using information from a private vault of location information its apps have collected. The analysis shows that only "very modest" changes in habits in the US, France, and
19 Mar 2020
Researchers at the University of Oxford are working with the UK government on an app similar to the smartphone tracking system China developed to alert people who have come in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. The British app, which would be associated with the country's National
18 Mar 2020
Technology entrepreneurs within Belgium would like to introduce a health code app similar to China's Alipay Health Code that would control individuals' movements based on their health status. The government has engaged privacy experts from the Belgian data protection authority and Ghent University
17 Mar 2020
Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) provided a SIM card to every foreigner and Thai who had travelled from countries that have have been designated as "high risk" for COVID-19 infections (at the time, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Italy, and Macau). According to
06 Mar 2020
With 6,300 COVID-19 cases and more than 40 reported deaths, the South Korean government launched a smarphone app (Android first, iPhone due on March 20) to monitor citizens on lockdown as part of its "maximum" action to contain the outbreak. The app keeps patients in touch with care workers and uses
10 Mar 2020
After the Iranian government produced the AC19 Android app, intended to help people self-diagnose rather than going to a hospital, Google pulled it from the Play Store apparently suspecting that the app made the misleading claim that it could detect COVID-19 infections although it is also true that
11 Mar 2020
A Hamburg geotracking startup called Ubilabs is working with the Hannover School of Medicine on a data analysis platform that could track people who have tested positive for the coronavirus and their contacts, Der Tagesspiegel reported on Tuesday; this type of tracking would require individuals'
09 Mar 2020
Colombia's has launched the free, Android-only, prevention-focused Colombia-Coronapp developed by the National Health Institute (INS) to help identify and eradicate the virus across the country, as well provide centralisation and transparency. Besides their basic information, users are asked to say
01 Mar 2020
Software on smartphones dictates whether an individual should be quarantined. Chinese citizens in 200 cities, beginning with Hangzhou, are required to install the Alipay Health Code app, developed by Hangzhou's local government with the help of Alipay owner Ant Financial, on their smartphones. After
01 Mar 2020
A group of independent developers in Argentina started CoTrack, a public crowdsourced effort to develop an app to track and slow the spread of the virus. CoTrack registers each user's geographic movements and looks for times when they are close to people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. When
01 Mar 2020
Software on smartphones dictates whether an individual should be quarantined. Chinese citizens in 200 cities, beginning with Hangzhou, are required to install the Alipay Health Code app, developed by Hangzhou's local government with the help of Alipay owner Ant Financial, on their smartphones. After