Because the mobile phone asks you to activate Covid-19 notifications


For a few days, it is probable that on your smartphone – whether it is a device with Android or iOs operating system – a message has appeared asking you to activate the «Covid-19 exposure notifications». If it hasn’t happened yet, maybe because you haven’t downloaded all the available updates yet, it will happen in the next few hours. This is the joint tracking system of Apple and Google that becomes operational. In short, we went from theory to practice.

After the ads and the weeks of waiting, the two giants of the web have added an important technological element to contribute to the contact tracing put in place by the various governments, including the Italian one which, remember, chose the Immuni app to do so. This, developed by the Milanese company Bending Spoons and of which the screen previews and the source codewill be tested in the next few days in three sample regions: Liguria, Abruzzo and Puglia. If everything goes smoothly, in early June every Italian citizen can choose to download it and update it with their own health conditions.

So why has a notification already arrived to record any exposure to the infection? Why to use Immuni it is necessary (but optional) to authorize Google and Apple first to share – albeit anonymously – the information with the app chosen by the national health system. To understand if you have had contact with people who have subsequently tested positive for coronavirus, the exposure notifications must be active, otherwise the system will not work and cannot issue that random and unrecognizable ID code that corresponds to the user and, in case of risk , warn him. In fact, it is not enough to have turned on Bluetooth and geolocation, but explicit consent must be given to monitoring. Obviously, they can be deactivated at any time.

What about privacy? To avoid nominal tracking, the ID code generated for those who use the Immuni app changes every 10-20 seconds and the phone only stores the other code owners encountered in the last two weeks. Furthermore, the health system is not authorized to use the citizen’s position and movements, but merely sends him an alert if he has been exposed to the infection. Therefore, the hoaxes on phantom self-installing apps that without our consent slip into smartphones are to be denied, but it is important to record that it remains anyway high attention on Immuni and its security.