French telecom Orange is pressing Apple to allow the carrier’s COVID-19 contact tracing app more access to iOS core functionality, which has the potential to risk users’ privacy.
Just as the first beta of Apple and Google’s coronavirus contract tracing technology becomes available to developers, France is continuing to hold out for its own app and is pressing Apple to allow more access to iOS.
Apple and Google’s solution performs contact tracing and exposure notification primarily on-device and does not store user data in any central database. France’s system uses a central database which – even within France itself – is raising privacy concerns.
Apple has already refused to lessen iOS security features for the app, but the head of the Orange cellular firm insists talks are still ongoing.
“There are meetings almost every day. It’s not a done deal yet,” Orange CEO Stephane Richard told Reuters, “but we have a discussion dynamic with Apple that is not bad.”
Germany had been pressing for a similar self-developed solution but has reportedly agreed to instead work with Apple and Google. However, Richards says that is simply not true. “Beware of statements we’ve heard,” he said.
“The Germans are keeping a channel open,” he continued. “They didn’t choose one side versus another. The Germans are working on the two options at the moment. I am still hopeful everything will manage to converge quickly.”
Britain’s NHS has also opted to develop its own app in place of the Apple and Google solution, which, much like the French solution stores data on central servers. The British system is said to be readying for a launch “in the coming weeks.” Orange says its French StopCovid app should be ready for use by early May.