Tech

Open letter: Digital associations criticize corona tracing app

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According to the plans of the federal government, above all by Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU), the German corona tracing app should work with a central server based on the PEPP-PT concept. This is stated by several digital associations in an open letter (PDF) criticizes: With PEPP-PT, the Federal Government is relying on the most problematic of the existing drafts. A reassessment of the various options, taking into account the arguments and reservations of many experts, is urgently needed, says the letter to Spahn and Chancellor Helge Braun (CDU). Just last week, 300 scientists criticized PEPP-PT's data protection concept in an open letter.

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A common fight against the pandemic requires trust and cooperation from everyone, this is gambled away by such measures, in particular by an app requirement. Rather, an obligation to disclose sensitive information is not compatible with a liberal, democratic society. "We also explicitly reject the introduction of an indirect app requirement, which would make entering certain places dependent on their use," explain the digital associations.

"A corona tracing app should, if at all, only be built and programmed on the basis of a decentralized approach – such as the DP-3T concept," write the Chaos Computer Club, the SPD and FDP-related digital associations D64 and LOAD, as well as the Gesellschaft für Informatik, the Data Protection Foundation and the Forum Informatikerinnen für Friedens und Gesellschaft Responsibility. The low level of data protection of the central approach unnecessarily gambles the trust of the population and thus undermines acceptance for later digital solutions.

Crash landing with PEPP-PT

Although the user data would be pseudonymized in both approaches, it could be traced back more easily with a central approach and vice versa (de-anonymized). For example, better infected people can be identified, the authors write. "Through demands – among other things by the German government – to put data protection concerns in the face of the pandemic, credibility and creative effects for the future are being gambled away," criticize the associations.

Switzerland and Austria, both based on a decentralized approach, showed that there is another way. Apple and Google are also working on making the decentralized approach available via their iOS and Android operating systems. In this respect, the failure of a PEPP-PT app is preprogrammed, write the digital associations. However, Germany and other EU countries are currently putting pressure on Apple and Google to get the national, central approaches into smartphone operating systems. Whipping up a technology with an acceptance problem is not the right way, emphasize the digital associations: "This turns the idea of ​​a digital solution into a crash landing – and no one can afford to fight the pandemic."

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