European coronavirus app platform gains traction with governments


A European technology platform supporting smartphone apps that can track people at risk of infection from the new coronavirus is getting support from governments, one of the main promoters said Friday.

Seven countries have formally supported the Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT initiative or commissioned one of its members to develop a national app, German tech told entrepreneur Chris Boos to Reuters. PEPP-PT has emerged as a leading advocate of using short-range Bluetooth communications between personal devices as a proxy to measure the risk that a person infected with coronavirus can transmit it.

“Many larger countries have dedicated their app teams to build on what we deliver,” said Boos, co-founder of PEPP-PT and founder of Arago, a business automation startup, in an interview. He mentioned Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Malta, Spain and Switzerland, adding that another 40 countries had registered and were brought on board.

More than 200 scientists and technologists are collaborating on PEPP-PT, conceived as the backbone of national apps that would adhere to Europe’s strict privacy rules and that can “talk” across borders. Technologists are rushing to devise digital methods to fight a disease that has infected more than 2 million people worldwide, 150,000 of whom have died.

Automating the assessment of who is at risk and telling them to see a doctor, get tested or isolate themselves is seen by lawyers as a way to speed up a tedious task that typically involves phone calls and door knocking # DATA PRIVACY

The approach is based on work by researchers at Oxford University’s Big Data Institute who claim that as 60% of the population is so & # 39; using an app that would be enough to quell the pandemic. This would be difficult to achieve if apps are voluntary. But even with a lower recording, one infection can be prevented by every 1 or 2 people using an app, Christophe Fraser of Oxford told a separate video briefing.

However, a tear has arisen among technologists around data privacy issues, with some prefering decentralized approaches that do not host sensitive data on a main server through more centralized systems. Angry said PEPP-PT could work in either situation. “Both models have their advantages and disadvantages … A country has to choose which system it needs.”

Italy has supported a contact tracing app developed by Milan-based startup Bending Spoons, a member of PEPP-PT, while Germany plans to roll out an app under development at the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, another participant. In France, the digital research institute INRIA is also developing an app based on PEPP-PT. “We are fully committed to making this pan-European initiative a success,” said INRIA head Bruno Sportisse.

PEPP-PT has been criticized by supporters of a decentralized protocol called DP-3T, with early support from Marcel Salathe of the Swiss Federal The Institute of Technology in Lausanne publicly distances itself from it on Friday. Angry said DP-3T still played a role. He also responded to criticisms that PEPP-PT was too secretive, promising to publish his documentation for public review on Friday.

Friday’s briefing on the video conferencing app Zoom was hacked by someone who posted racist comments. The case of so-called Zoom bombing, Boos admitted, recalled that the PEPP-PT platform had to be safe and secure.

(This story has not been edited by staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)


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