Apple and Google promise to shut down their coronavirus trackers when the pandemic ends… but does anyone believe them?
(Natural News) On Friday, Apple and Google pledged that they will turn off their coronavirus tracker after the pandemic is sufficiently contained. The statement was part of an announcement of changes that the tech giants are making to their ambitious automatic contact-tracing proposal.
According to an Apple representative, the changes are the result of feedback that both companies received about the specifications in the original proposal and how they might be improved. The companies also released a “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) document, which rehashed most of the information that had already been made public.
Privacy concerns led to changes
Some changes to the proposal look to address privacy concerns that came up after the proposal’s initial release. Under the new specifications, daily tracing keys, which identify daily contact traces, will now be randomly generated instead of mathematically derived from a user’s private key, which is tied to individual users.
The daily tracing key is shared with the central database if a user decides to report a positive diagnosis. Under the old encryption protocol, encryption experts worried that attackers would be able to link those keys with a specific user. Connecting a user to a diagnosis should be more difficult now that the keys are randomly generated. Additionally, the daily tracing key is now referred to as the “temporary tracing key,” and the long-term tracing key that was in the original specification has been removed.
Metadata associated with the system’s Bluetooth transmissions are also given specific protections under the new encryption specification. Along with randomized codes, devices will also broadcast which version of the tool they’re running and even their base power level (used in calculating proximity). As this information could be used to fingerprint specific users, the engineers laid out a new system for encrypting them in a way that makes it difficult to decode them in transit.