Apple rejected Germany’s idea of centralized virus contact tracing apps

After refusal of Apple Inc to support short range communication on its iPhones to trace coronavirus infections due to its concerns over users’ privacy, Germany has chosen a home-grown technology firm to develop the smartphone apps for the same.

Lawmakers in Germany were told by the government that it has selected a design made for the Robert Koch Institute, which being country’s leading agency in its coronavirus health efforts will keep the personal data of the infected people recorded on a central server.

In their efforts to slow down the virus outbreak, countries across the globe are in a haste to launch digital contact tracing apps, which would allow them to know the people who have been contacted by a virus infected person.

European countries are planning using Bluetooth communications or so-called “handshakes” between devices as a tool to determine any risk of infection, but they are divided over the way of maintaining the logs of those contacts as some are in favor of logging them on devices while others want them to be logged on a central server.

Germany is in support of a centralized platform so built by a consortium of the Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT) and is backing an app developed by the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute which is one of PEPP-PT members.

The solution stores anonymised user’s data on a central server, but it has significantly practical approach when it comes to security and protection of data so gathered, said Tankred Schipanski, a spokesman of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives party for digital affairs.

However, Apple refused German government’s idea of allowing such apps to keep an eye on Bluetooth of its devices by running in the background concerning over user’s privacy, instead Apple and Aplhabet’s Google have proposed tweaks to serve that purpose which would be better compatible with those device based apps.