Framework to secure COVID-19 smartphone proximity tracing

May 12, 2020 //By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Framework to secure COVID-19 smartphone proximity tracing
In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, a new ETSI group has been established to provide a standardization framework that will enable developers to build interoperable mobile apps for proximity tracing and anonymous identification.

The new ETSI Industry Specification Group, designated “Europe for Privacy-Preserving Pandemic Protection” (ISG E4P), aims to ensure the anonymity and privacy of smartphone users and protect them against exposure to potential cyber-attacks when part of a proximity tracing system.

This standardization framework will enable the development of interoperable systems to automatically trace and inform potentially infected users in addition to manual notification methods, whilst preserving users’ privacy and complying with relevant Data Protection regulation.

As well as accelerating the development of smartphone-based apps to help with the essential breaking of transmission chains, such a pan-European standardization framework should enable interoperability between different proximity tracing and alert systems.

The most effective strategy for curbing the spread of COVID-19 is to break transmission chains by informing people when they have been in close contact with other individuals who have tested positive for the virus.

A primary challenge with proximity tracing systems is collecting, processing and acting on information about citizens’ proximity at scale, potentially representing tens or hundreds of millions of people. This must also be achieved without compromising users’ anonymity and privacy, and while safeguarding them against exposure to potential cyber-attacks.


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