tracking
  • A coalition of organizations, researchers, and universities are planning to develop a pan-European tracking app.
  • The new platform will be able to locate COVID-19 cases, enforce quarantine, identify infection chains, etc.
  • The goal is to resume economic and social activity in Europe without having to wait for a cure or a vaccine.

A European technological collaborative platform named “Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing” (PEPP-PT) is readying to introduce a tracing app that will work across the continent. As the name of the consortium suggests, the tracking will happen in a way that will respect the privacy rights of the people and will be compliant with the relevant provisions of the GDPR. The goal of the PEPP-PT is to develop an app that can swiftly identify potential infection chains for COVID-19, isolate single cases, and their contacts. This would help restart the social and economic life in the continent, and finally to help manage healthcare resources most efficiently.

covid_infection
Source: pepp-pt.org

To figure out where a device is, the tracking system will be receiving the anonymous periodic phone broadcasts, in combination with radio signals and Bluetooth connectivity data, as well as information regarding how close it lies to another device. The proximity history is stored locally on the app and encrypted, while no geolocation or personal information is involved. This data remains there until it becomes epidemiologically unimportant, and by that time, it is automatically wiped from the phone. If the user is tested positive for COVID-19, the proximity history is retrieved, decrypted, and used for tracking the person’s moves and whom they contacted.

A specialized security team, national cyber-security agencies, and national data protection agencies will be continuously monitoring all of these procedures and tracking mechanisms. These entities will ensure that no privacy violations will occur and that the data will be used solely for healthcare-related purposes and nothing else. Moreover, these teams will scrutinize the app’s code to identify any potential loopholes or vulnerabilities that could result in data leaks, fixing them swiftly and effectively. Currently, the consortium faces bottleneck challenges in the testing of the software, but they are confident that these will be eliminated in the following weeks.

The whole point of this new tracking system is to make it work across national borders without interruptions or the need for additional configuration. This way, it will help resume international business and personal traveling, while keeping COVID-19 cases in check. German chancellor Angela Merkel has already praised the effort of PEPP-PT and stated that she would happily run their app on her devices.