In April, with no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, Apple and Google announced joint plans to launch a universal infection tracking system for iOS and Android. To ensure maximum reach of the audience, the companies decided that they would distribute the update with the system not only to new devices, but also to older devices. To do this, Google announced that it will include the innovation in the update of Google Play services, specifying that devices without their support – namely Huawei – will not be able to use the tracking system. However, the Chinese have found a way out of this situation.
Monitoring coronavirus patients should help stop its spread
Yesterday evening Huawei began distributing the update Huawei Mobile Services, the key function of which was to support the company's own mechanism aimed at controlling the spread of coronavirus. Despite the fact that the solution Huawei is called Contact Shield without specifying tracking, unlike Contact Tracing Exposure from Apple and Google, their purpose is precisely to track the movements and meetings of users with each other and thus control the spread of the coronavirus.
How are coronavirus patients being monitored
Will its own tracking system for COVID-19 patients from Huawei work is a big question
Therefore, Contact Shield will work in much the same way as Contact Exposure Tracing from Apple and Google.
- The system will generate random identifiers for each device and exchange them with the devices of other users, if the fact of their meeting is recorded;
- The identifiers are completely impersonal and do not contain any personal information about users, including data about the place where the meeting was recorded;
- Identifiers will be stored on users' devices for exactly 14 days, and then deleted – this is exactly how long the incubation period of COVID-19 lasts;
- Contact Shield will require a third-party application, as is the case with Apple and Google, which do not handle data processing themselves, placing this responsibility on the local health authorities;
- Only government agencies will be able to access the API Contact Shield, which Huawei will carefully check and only then issue permission to release the corresponding application;
- Huawei will sign a confidentiality agreement with the developers who will release applications for Contact Shield, with the right to revoke the certificate if the requirements are violated.
By and large, Contact Shield is a conceptual copy of Contact Exposure Tracing, with the only exception that the solution Huawei is more focused on privacy. If Apple and Google, in general, do not impose any requirements on the developers and even less threaten them with the revocation of the certificate, then Huawei emphatically states that it will block the application if it violates user privacy. Obviously, in this way the Chinese want to draw attention to their development, so as not to be left on the sidelines.
Huawei is Apple better?
Huawei is emphatically categorical in matters of confidentiality. Even more than Apple
In fact, there are no differences. Contact Shield will record appointments, then transmit that data to a server that healthcare applications can access. As a result, if one of the users finds out about a coronavirus infection, he will report this to the application, and it will already send a notification about the need to take tests to everyone with whom he met. The idea, no doubt, is not bad, categoricalness Huawei in confidentiality issues looks especially appropriate, but this system, most likely, will not work.
Despite its status as one of the most popular electronics manufacturers in the world, Huawei, whatever one may say, remains a Chinese company, closely associated with the Chinese Communist Party. Therefore, it will be logical if the governments of the overwhelming majority of countries in the world refuse to work with Huawei in this direction. Otherwise, they will independently create the risk of leakage of their citizens' data to China. Even if Huawei is really determined to abide by its own safety rules, it is unlikely that anyone would just believe in the company's sincerity.