Germans Are Embracing the State’s COVID-19 Tracking App

By Bill Toulas / June 18, 2020

The “Corona-Warn-App,” Germany’s official COVID-19 tracing app, launched a day ago, and people are already “flocking” in the virtual app stores to install it. In these first 24 hours, more than 6.5 million Germans have installed the app, which is an amazing feat for the particular people. Privacy advocates and experts in the field considered this specific app to be a market indicator for the adoption of virus infection tracing apps in general. This is simply because Germans are among the most privacy-conscious people in the world, and aren’t willing to give away their personal information, not even when it is for saving lives.

Back in March, we covered a story about a study conducted by the Technology Policy Institute, that asked people from various countries how much money they’d ask in return to give away personal data. Americans would share their contact information with Facebook for $3.5, while Germans topped the list, asking for $8. That is because Germany’s recent history with the Nazi dictatorship, as well as East Germany’s nosy regime, is filled with examples of privacy rights violations and the state collecting any data they wanted about the citizens.

The German state initially planned to develop a centralized database system that would collect information about people. Still, once they realized how negatively this resonated with people, they opted to use the Apple/Google API. This is a Bluetooth-based contact tracing system that keeps all data on the device locally until a trace-back leads to the user. The use of the app is entirely voluntary anyway, so people aren’t obliged to trust and install it. If they don’t want to use it, they are free to ignore it.

app store app

Source: Apple App Store

However, the first adoption wave indicates that the people are open to using it, as roughly 8% of the total population in the country has installed it within the first day. Those who did are even giving high scores, so they are satisfied with it. On the Play Store, the Corona-Warn-App has a rating of 4.5 out of 35k reviews, while on the App Store, it has 4.8 from 30k reviews. And it’s not just that it makes them feel safer and that’s why it scores higher. People are praising its design, the “simple to understand” privacy policy, the impeccable English translation, and the uninterrupted performance. All this cost $22.7 million for software development, and another $4 million is spent on its operation every month.

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