Since they started talking about apps for tracking coronavirus patients, society has been divided into those who were happy about it and those who were once again given a reason to talk about total surveillance. While the movement of people is limited almost all over the world, this is not so scary, but imagine what will happen after the borders are opened? The applications will either simply not work, or you will have to do something else for the system to function normally. In this situation, what should the governments of countries and private companies that promote the idea of such surveillance have to do? Will they be able to cope not only with local, but also with global movements?
Will the coronavirus tracking apps work when the borders open and everyone starts traveling?
Coronavirus Patient Tracking System
Now the most global system, if you can call it that, is the one proposed by Apple and Google, which have teamed up to create a means to combat the pandemic. Let me remind you that their service is based on Bluetooth the near field. This is a system that can use technology Bluetooth to exchange information and record with whom you were within a radius of a couple of meters for several minutes.
After that, if someone from the people you meet gets sick with COVID-19, he will mark this in the application (at least he should). If less than two weeks have passed since the meeting, you will receive a notification that you are at risk. Then you can check or just self-isolate. Of course, there are cases when the system can falsely work if the phone was lying against the wall behind which the neighbor put his. Or, for example, if you were standing next to someone in your cars at a traffic light. Formally, there was no contact, but the smartphones caught each other's field. These are already errors.
Will there be a unified system for combating coronavirus
Not all countries are ready to use the system Apple and Google and are developing their similar services. This is partly due to the reluctance to share data, but there is also a desire to make your own product, which will be convenient in this particular country.
They were able to unite, while others cannot.
On the one hand, it seems logical, but what should people who travel be doing? Borders will be opened anyway sooner or later, and for sure it will be before this whole epic ends. As a result, it will be necessary to somehow unite the bases or simply force a person to install the application of this country at the border. The only question is how, in this case, to get a person to mark the detection of COVID-19 after returning home?
This will be especially true in countries where there are no borders as such. For example, within Europe or between Russia and Belarus.
And another problem may be that some applications process everything locally, inside the phone, simply periodically requesting a database of identifiers that have identified signs of the disease. Others, on the contrary, work entirely through the server, often transferring there not even an impersonal identifier, but full-fledged human data. Users like the second option much less. Although they do not really believe in the first one and think that there will be no privacy.
Are people ready for a unified disease tracking system?
The European authorities agreed that 'Users should be able to rely on one application regardless of the region or EU Member State in which they are at any given moment.' This is already the first step towards system unification. But what about personal data, which will now walk not only on the servers of the local health care system, but around the world? Will not this finally discourage people from using such systems? And also, what about a situation when the state prohibits storing citizens' data on servers outside its territory? Does this include identifiers that, albeit impersonal, are tied to a person? So many questions and so few answers.
At the same time, cross-border tracking of diseases is really very important, and not only for the country where the disease was brought, but also for the one from where. So she will receive a warning earlier that it is necessary to take measures somehow.
Tracking patients through the phone is the simplest and most effective.
How many examples do you know when states could agree on a single application architecture? They work in different countries, but one thing Instagram, and another thing – applications that protect national interests. One of the above-mentioned data processing methods (on a smartphone or a server) is enough to confuse any attempts to agree on unification.
In the case of unions of states, for example, within the European Union, this may generally call into question the rationale for the existence of such an association. What kind of cooperation can we talk about if governments cannot agree among themselves even in the common struggle against mortal danger?
Worldwide application compatibility
At the moment, it is being discussed that application compatibility should be achieved regardless of which architecture a particular state has chosen for its applications. But such work is possible only through a server that will exchange data with users from all over the world. As a result, again you need to think about a single standard. The solutions should allow the servers of the participants of this unified system to communicate and obtain the corresponding keys among themselves using a reliable and secure mechanism.
I don't really believe that reason will win and countries will be able to come to an agreement. This calls into question not only the ability to track the sources of the spread of COVID-19 and future diseases, but in general the whole idea that was proposed by Apple and Google.
It turns out that not only the reluctance of people to share data will stand in the way of such tracking, but also the fact that with the opening of the borders it will be simply impossible to track anything if the governments do not agree among themselves. Only a single standard can save the day. But won't it be too late to approve it until everyone agrees?