Friday, September 17, 2021

Big Tech failed to track contacts. Can the Vaccine Passport app be better?

Author: Samantha Murphy Kelly | CNN Business

As some U.S. cities begin to require proof of vaccination in order to enter restaurants, event venues and workplaces, smartphone manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, and Google are introducing methods to allow users to easily display their Covid with a single tap. -19 Vaccine status.

This may be an attempt by a large technology company to use a pandemic solution tool after a failed contact tracking application last year, which uses Bluetooth technology to remind people if they are in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.Those products are Be troubled by problems Measure proximity, failed notifications, and reduce adoption rates across states while keeping data anonymous.

In theory, this latest effort should be much simpler, but these companies are facing a crowded application market and potential privacy issues for some Americans.

Samsung recently Announce Galaxy device users can load their vaccination records from the CommonHealth app, which was created by the Commons Project Foundation, which works with a number of airlines to provide vaccination certificates and store them in the Samsung Pay digital wallet. Unlike some applications that do not check whether the uploaded vaccine card is legitimate, users verify their identity and obtain their status from the pharmacy or healthcare provider that provides their vaccine.

This work can eliminate the need for users to choose A large number of vaccine verification applications available -Some of them are More trustworthy than others.

Sam Gazeley, a digital research analyst at ABI Research, said: “If large technology companies have specific applications that they will use, then this will greatly reduce the number of application solutions currently flooding the market.” “By eliminating forged documents entering circulation The risk of fraudulent certification, which will help to a certain extent.”

Some vaccine verification apps, such as NYC Safe app in New York City, have faced criticize Some privacy experts call it a “pretended camera app” that allows users to upload photos of vaccine cards—— Or anything -And make it the business owner’s responsibility to determine whether it is true. (So ​​far, countless Fake vaccine card Has been sold on the dark web and the U.S. Border Patrol has Seized Thousands of fakes. )

In addition to verifying vaccine status, applications such as the CommonHealth application developed by IBM and the New York Excelsior Pass application also provide scannable QR codes for different companies to enter. They do not display any personal information except whether the person was shot.

Some experts say that companies such as Samsung, Google and Apple may play an important role in the joint creation of verifiable credentials by the private and public sectors.

Donna Medeiros, senior research director at market research firm Gartner, said: “Tech companies are helping to stay one step ahead of the U.S. efforts in verifiable digital Covid-19 credentials, but perhaps more importantly, storing portable digital consumer health data in In a digital wallet.” “This means using mobile phones to share our data at the time, place, and object we want in a standardized way.”

June, Google Announce Android users will be able to store various test results and vaccine status from medical institutions, government agencies, and organizations directly on the device.At the same time, Apple’s iOS 15 software launched this fall can Store verifiable vaccine records and test results In its health app.

Apple told CNN Business that other vaccine verification applications available in the App Store have undergone strict approval procedures. It only approves those applications from known entities, such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, medical and educational institutions And companies that are certified on health issues.Earlier this year, it Released an update Outline privacy requirements around the Health Pass application. Developers can use Apple’s PassKit framework to provide these applications on Apple Wallet.

As more and more people download their data and store it on their devices, the Vaccine Status app has received early adoption in California, New York, and Louisiana, mainly due to local government requirements for vaccination. Proof to enter certain areas. This is also an attractive effort for smartphone manufacturers who do not have to manage the process themselves.

Gazeley said that the risk of being a storage solution is less than the risk of creating location monitoring software full of privacy issues.

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Make a mark

Last year, long-term competitors Google and Apple Announce It is hyped that they will work together to help the government use Bluetooth technology to track the spread of Covid-19. This is also expected to be a potential turning point in their long-term efforts to gain a greater foothold in the healthcare industry. (Samsung does not have a contact tracking program).

Google and Apple’s apps are designed to anonymously monitor where people travel, who they are in close contact with, and alert them when they might be exposed to the virus.Eventually, they were carriage, Raised privacy issues and has not been widely adopted.

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IDC Research Director Amy Loomis, who pays close attention to future work trends, said that Big Tech’s efforts to support the vaccine health pass application are inherently prepared for success.

“Language is very important,” she said. “No one wants to be’tracked’ or tracked, but we always show’certificates’-employment certificates with badges, legal age certificates with licenses.

“even though [Apple and Google’s] Participation is limited to providing storage solutions for the certificate itself, and many people will [the company] Even if this is not the case,” Gazley said. “So, in this way, it achieves more goals for them than contact-tracking apps have tried. “

Challenges for the future

Not everyone believes that large technology companies will succeed.According to Albert Kahn-his experiment Upload a picture of Mickey Mouse Go to the Covid Safe app in New York City, because the vaccination certificate spread earlier this month-the vaccine verification app opened a Pandora’s privacy issue box and is susceptible to forged certificates, which may be required before entry Vaccine institutions provide a false sense of protection, such as restaurants or workplaces.

“Technology companies promised us that exposure notification applications will stop the pandemic. They failed,” said Kahn, founder and executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project and a researcher at the New York University School of Law. “Now, vaccine applications will disappoint us again, and I am worried that they will cause lasting damage to the public’s trust in vaccines.”

He said that some applications are easy to counterfeit, not every citizen has a smartphone, and there are always questions about how to handle user data, which will limit the success of these tools. He said that the main issue in privacy concerns is whether location or medical data will be collected and stored and who will have access to this information.

The companies behind many applications on the market have stated that they will not store data, but this perception may discourage some people. (This issue has been politicized this year. For example, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Prohibit the use of vaccine passports In the state in April, the issue of freedom and privacy was cited. )

Vaccination certificate programs—including IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle, Mayo Clinic, and Commons Project—play a key role in the development of standards and guidelines for digital health passes in the United States. It requires that participating applications cannot store data on a central server or be aggregated, so the issuer will not know a person’s location history.

Big Tech failed to track contacts. Can the Vaccine Passport app be better?
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