Back in April of this year, Apple and Google announced that they would be teaming up to launch a brand new API for iOS and Android devices, a contact tracing effort to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes.
Since then, Apple has released iOS 13.5 and iPadOS 13.5 to launch support for the new Exposure Notification API that will make these contact tracing apps possible. And now we’ve got one of the first apps to use the API, with the Ministry of Health in Italy welcoming an app called “Immuni” for those in Italy (via Federico Viticci).
Here’s part of the official description of the app:
Immuni is the official exposure notification app of the Italian government, developed by the Extraordinary Commissioner for the COVID-19 Emergency, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry for Innovation Technology and Digitalization. The app is developed and released in full compliance with the protection of the user’s personal data and with current legislation, including the law-decree of April 30, 2020, n. 28.
In the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic, the app aims to notify users at risk of carrying the virus as early as possible—even when they are asymptomatic. These users can then self-isolate to avoid infecting others, minimising the spread of the virus and speeding up the return to normal life for the majority of the population. By being alerted early, these users can also contact their general practitioner promptly and lower the risk of serious consequences.
The app’s description notes that the app relies on Bluetooth Low Energy technology, which means it does not rely on GPS for location tracking. In addition, it means it will be more energy efficient on the device. The app will not –and cannot– collect any information pertinent to the individual user, including their name, date of birth, telephone number, or more.
The app’s description also includes bullet points regarding user privacy:
• The minimum amount of data is collected—only data which is strictly necessary to support and improve the exposure notification system.
• The Bluetooth Low Energy code transmitted by the app is generated randomly and does not contain any information about the user’s smartphone, let alone the user. In addition, this code changes several times every hour, protecting user privacy even more.
• The data saved on the smartphone is encrypted.
• The connections between the app and the server are encrypted.
• All data, whether stored on the device or on the server, is deleted when no longer relevant, and certainly no later than December 31, 2020.
• The Ministry of Health is the body that collects the data and decides for which purposes to use it. The data is used solely with the aim of containing the COVID-19 epidemic or for scientific research.
• The data is stored on servers in Italy and managed by public bodies.
Immuni, like other apps of its kind, is an opt-in situation. However, the more people that use the app will make contact tracing much more helpful.
Immuni is available now for iOS users in Italy.