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Contact Tracing by Giant Data Collectors: Opening Pandora's Box of Threats to Privacy, Sovereignty and National Security

Abstract : Many countries have introduced digital contact tracing apps to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Such apps help to identify contacts between potentially infectious persons automatically and thus bear the promise of reducing the burden on manual contact tracers and increase tracing accuracy in situations in which people have difficulties identifying with whom they have been in contact. A number of different proposals for digital contact tracing systems have been made or deployed, ranging from heavily centralized to completely decentralized approaches, each with its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of tracing effectiveness and impact on user privacy. During the phase of highly dynamic evolution of these approaches, surprisingly, Google and Apple established an unprecedented friendship and agreed on a very special scheme for contact tracing, realizing this in the form of an API called GAEN that they quickly integrated into their mobile operating systems. A multitude of nationally rolled out tracing apps are now based on the GAEN approach. In this paper, we revisit such apps and the GAEN API on which they are built. In particular, we point out a number of very problematic aspects and threats that the GAEN approach creates through its security and privacy weaknesses but also through the threats that it poses on technological sovereignty and the public health system.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, January 20, 2021 - 8:54:21 AM
Last modification on : Friday, January 21, 2022 - 3:22:59 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, April 21, 2021 - 6:08:47 PM


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  • HAL Id : hal-03116024, version 1


Antoine Boutet, Claude Castelluccia, Mathieu Cunche, Alexandra Dmitrienko, Vincenzo Iovino, et al.. Contact Tracing by Giant Data Collectors: Opening Pandora's Box of Threats to Privacy, Sovereignty and National Security. [University works] EPFL, Switzerland; Inria, France; JMU Würzburg, Germany; University of Salerno, Italy; base23, Geneva, Switzerland; Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany. 2020. ⟨hal-03116024⟩



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