App Store on iPhoneSource: iMore

What you need to know

  • A French minister has threatened Apple over its privacy stance regarding contact tracing apps in the country.
  • A report suggests that Apple has "dug in its heels" in a standoff with the French government.
  • The two are at loggerheads over France's StopCOVID app.

A French minister has threatened Apple saying "we will remember" after Apple remained firm in its stance over the privacy and security of contact tracing apps.

As reported by Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has dug in its heels in a standoff with the French government over the merits of protecting users' privacy versus giving the state access to information in efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19. A French manager for the Cupertino, California-based company declined the government's request to modify privacy and security settings for apps that use Apple devices' Bluetooth technology on Saturday, a spokesman for Digital Minister Cedric O said. A representative for Apple declined to comment.

Frances Digital Minister Cedric O stated;

"Apple could have helped us make it work even better. They didn't do it for a reason that is beyond me. I think it's regrettable... A company that has never been in a better economic shape is not helping the government to fight the crisis. We will remember that."

According to the report, France seems to have requested that Apple modify its own privacy and security parameters. In the last 24 hours, O said that France was moving forward with its own StopCOVID app, which will use centralized data holding, something Apple and Google will not advocate. From that report O stated:

"French health and technological sovereignty ... is the freedom for our country to be able to have the choice and not be constrained by the choices of a large company, however innovative and efficient it may be."

At the time he said that conversations with Apple and France were ongoing, however, this latest development suggests that they may have broken down. Apps that adopt a centralized system of storing user data are not supported by Apple and Google, which will lead to constraints making the apps less functional. For example, they will not be able to run in the background whilst using Bluetooth.

The French government is due to vote on the use of the app week-commencing May 25, with some lawmakers worried as to whether the use of user location data and contacts are a violation of user privacy.