What you need to know
- Germany is now on board with a decentralized contact tracing program.
- The country had, as of last week, pushed for a centralized approach.
- The decision to decentralize puts the country in line with Apple and Google's solution.
Last week, Germany had announced that it would be using its own home-grown solution to contact-tracing, saying that Apple and Google's solution was not a viable solution to how the government needed to track the virus.
Now, it appears that the government is making a 180-degree turn. Reported by Reuters, the country has now decided to forgo its in-house solution and is choosing Apple and Google's contact tracing technology.
According to the report, Germany's original solution, a centralized standard called Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT), became highly criticized because of the surveillance it would have caused as well as some issues with the methodology of the system.
"An open letter from hundreds of scientists published last Monday warned that, if the contact tracing data was centralized, it would allow 'unprecedented surveillance of society at large' ... 'A series of grave errors were made by PEPP-PT regarding communication that, at the end of the day, caused serious damage and led to this decision,' Fraunhofer HHI head Thomas Wiegand said in a message to colleagues."
The German government, in response to pressure about the PEPP-PT, has now decided to adopt a decentralized standard that falls more in line with the solution that Apple and Google are currently building.
"In their joint statement, Braun and Spahn said Germany would now adopt a "strongly decentralized" approach. 'This app should be voluntary, meet data protection standards, and guarantee a high level of IT security,' they said. 'The main epidemiological goal is to recognize and break chains of infection as soon as possible.'"
Other supporters of a decentralized solution in Europe include Switzerland, Austria, and Estonia. France and Britain, however, continue to push for a centralized approach.