May 20, 2020 Apple and Google have released a jointly created API for contact tracing of cases of coronavirus to help governments to create their own apps, which will help stop the spread of infection. It would seem, here it is, the solution of most problems, but not all countries have expressed their interest. Only 22 countries and several US States have requested access to the new system. They are not interested?

Some countries have already created applications to track contacts of patients with mers, which are designed with huge violations of privacy. For example, an application that is used in South Korea, collects name, gender, year of birth, area of residence, occupation, travel history and more. App China directly associated with a unique state ID, which is identification of specific individuals.

Contact tracing of patients with coronavirus

Many countries still failed to release an app for tracking contacts. The US government has delegated the development of similar programs to individual States, but apparently few of them have achieved significant progress. Most European countries are still working on their applications — the United Kingdom recognizes that its own app that directly ignores all of the available standards of confidentiality, will not be ready in time.

In short, this is some mess. The world has never been a more urgent need to quickly create an application that does not violate the rights of citizens, and governments almost everywhere have demonstrated that they cannot cope with this task. Maybe Apple and Google should have brought the case to the end and to release a universal app?

But they didn’t, and I understand why. They recognized that they have the technical ability to act swiftly, but at the same time, they didn’t want to be seen as some dictators or “new state”. They did what at the time seemed very reasonable compromise approach: he created the APIs Apple released iOS 13.5, made it available to any government, and what would most people, and even created a pattern that would allow any country to create their own application with minimal effort. They performed 99% (!) all of the work and expected that the government will make the remaining 1%.

App for tracking contacts with people infected with coronavirus

From countries it was enough to say “Yes” and release apps at the time when the API became available. This, however, did not happen and will not happen. Countries make contradictory proposals for privacy standards. Officials are wordy debate. Accept official documents. Someone promises something. But still no normal applications for contact tracing of cases of coronavirus.

Looking back, it was obvious. Government it projects usually take years, and they can’t do anything when we need to obtain a decision within several weeks.

Yes, it still would require cooperation with governments. We need the public health service to identify those who had a positive diagnosis for COVID-19. Apple and Google could even offer to place the necessary software on its own servers for data exchange. One app for iOS and Android, which Apple and Google could release the phones would have received much more widespread than applications from individual countries.

A month ago, that was presumptuous. Perhaps it all would have resulted in a scandal between Apple, Google and many countries. But honestly, it is likely that this approach would be much more successful than the mess we have now.