Thierry BretonSource: @ThierryBreton

What you need to know

  • An EU leader has called on Apple to make sure contact-tracing apps work on iPhone.
  • Thierry Breton's comments come amidst debate around the privacy and security of apps that might help curb COVID-19.
  • Breton spoke to Tim Cook directly on the matter.

EU Industry leader Thierry Breton has said in a statement that Apple has a "responsibility" to ensure that contact-tracing apps work on its iOS platform.

As reported by Reuters:

EU industry chief Thierry Breton on Wednesday told Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook to make sure that mobile apps to limit the spread of coronavirus work on its iPhones and other devices, amidst the company's spat with France on its privacy safeguards.

Apple is also fighting a French government demand to change the privacy settings of its phones to make them compatible with France's planned contact tracing app.

Paris wants the future app detectable via Bluetooth even when it is not active. Apple's policy, however, prevents apps that transfer data over Bluetooth from running in the background.

According to the report, Breton "urged Apple to work constructively with national health authorities" to ensure contact tracing apps developed by governments would work on iOS. He said in a statement that it was "the responsibility of companies such as Apple to do their utmost" in developing "technical solutions" to make the apps work. He spoke to Tim Cook over video conference for 30 minutes on the matter and has previously spoken to Google CEO Sundar Pichai And Youtube's Susan Wojcicki on the matter.

He also reiterated that Apple and Google's joint contact tracing technology should comply with EU guidelines, ensuring that they only use anonymized data with consent from users and that a time limit is placed on the technology. In a tweet, Breton stated that he has a "good exchange" with Cook, and reportedly discussed making sure that contact tracings apps were "fully: anonymized, voluntary, transparent, temporary, secured, and interoperable across operating systems and borders."