Tim CookSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • An EU official has said that Apple and Google are holding EU states hostage.
  • That's after they rebuffed calls from France and Germany to back their contact tracing solutions.
  • Apple and Google will not accommodate solutions that involve holding personal data on a central server.

An EU official has said that Apple and Google are holding EU states hostage after they rebuffed further calls to support contact tracing solutions offered by France and Germany.

As Reuters reports:

A standoff between the two largest nations in the European Union and Silicon Valley escalated on Friday as Apple and Google rebuffed demands by France and Germany to back their approach to using smartphone technology to trace coronavirus infections.

Countries are rushing to develop apps to assess the risk that one person can infect another with the coronavirus, helping to isolate those who could spread the COVID-19 disease.

The report notes that EU countries are behind a system based on Bluetooth being used to track smartphone interaction, rather than user location data. However, the EU is sharply divided over the use of a centralized or a decentralized system. France and Germany support the former, however, they have again been told that Apple and Google will not back such a system. Switzerland appears to a leading proponent of DP-3T, which stands for Decentralised Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing, which Google's VP of engineering Dave Burke described as "the best privacy-preserving solution."

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On Friday, a webinar was hosted by the liberal renew faction in the European Parliament. Apple's global director of privacy and law enforcement requests told members:

"Those privacy principles are not going to change... They are fundamental minimum privacy principles that are needed to make this work."

If Apple and Google do not support the apps offered by countries, they would still technically work but would need to be open on your screen all the time to be effective. One EU official "The European states are being completely held hostage by Google and Apple" and a Spokeswoman for the German government stated;

"The federal government has great trust in the system that is being tested by Fraunhofer... With a decentralized system, you have to trust Apple and Google."