France’s centralized contact-tracing app approved by lawmakers, to launch this weekend

In France, the government’s contact-tracing app project was approved by the lower house of parliament on Wednesday, paving the way for a weekend launch of a tool developed independently of the more widely-used privacy-focused Apple-Google Exposure Notification API.

France contact-tracing app won't use the Apple-Google COVID-19 contact-tracing scheme

Michel Rose for Reuters:

In defending the app in parliament, the minister in charge hailed it as the embodiment of French know-how, developed by national champions such as Orange and Dassault Systemes.

“This is a French project, with the excellence but also the panache and some would say the stubbornness which characterises our country,” tech minister Cedric O told lawmakers.

France, along with Britain, has decided to keep contact data in a central database, arguing this would make it easier for authorities to track suspected coronavirus cases.

But Apple and Google want data to be stored on the phones themselves, out of government reach, saying this would better protect the privacy of users.

“Is it really a coincidence that 22 countries have used the Apple and Google interface, but not France or Britain, which are the only two countries in Europe with their own nuclear deterrent?” said Cedric O.

MacDailyNews Take: D.O.A.

Regardless, centralized (like the contact-tracing app in France) or decentralized, the idea of digital contact tracing via smartphones isn’t going to work very well, if at all.

The whole thing is pie-in-the-sky piffle.

Even if you forwent the smartphones (1 in 5 people don’t even have a smartphone in the U.S., for example; 1 in 4 in France) and instead sent a dedicated contact-tracing bracelet to every single person in the country, you’d still be stuck with widespread non-compliance, inability to force compliance in many countries, non-charged / forgotten / lost bracelets, Bluetooth issues, false positives, etc., etc., etc.

Contact tracing / exposure notification apps are nothing more pablum for the masses. It’s simply a case of governments wanting to be able to tell citizens, “Want to feel safe while getting back to work, shopping, going out to eat, vacationing, etc.? There’s an app for that.”

“Don’t worry. Be happy. Download this app and go about your business.”

Might these apps help in some cases to get the relatively few people who will use them to seek testing or self-quarantine if/when the alarm goes off? Of course. But, overall, these apps are little more than security blankets for the citizenry to clutch on their way to herd immunity and, for governments that use a centralized system, to track the spread of infections on the way to herd immunity. — MacDailyNews, April 27, 2020

That said, Apple was smart to get out ahead on this digital COVID-19 contact tracing, and drag along perpetual-follower Google, before most governments were able to really begin concocting draconian Orwellian schemes born of their own fevered nightmares.

More about the myriad issues of Bluetooth COVID-19 contact tracing apps can be found in our Takes here and here.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.