Five Prominent EU Countries Criticize Apple and Google for ‘Imposing Technical Standards’ on Contact Tracing Apps

Apple Google Collaboration

Apple and Google joined their hands to create common COVID-19 contact tracing APIs and then implemented them in Android and iOS a few days ago. Those APIs were allowed to be used by authorized health agencies all over the world to build contact tracing apps. However, some countries have been steering clear of those APIs. Now, five prominent EU states have criticized Apple and Google for imposing technical standards on COVID-19 contact tracing apps.

In a joint letter titled ‘Tracing Apps for a European way out of the crisis.’ ministers from five prominent EU countries—Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain—have indirectly criticized Apple and Google and their COVID-19 contact tracing APIs. They highlighted a need for a joint effort that would help restore normalcy across Europe, especially when it comes to digital and technological solutions.

The letter stated that technologies like contact tracing apps play an essential role in breaking the COVID-19 transmission chain by speeding up the notification process. However, it noted that these technologies need to be “developed in accordance with EU and national data protection and privacy legislation and according to shared principles.

The countries passively-aggressively stated that global tech companies need to develop solutions that are designed in a way that they are acceptable to governments and people. They should be compliant with European values, says the letter. Apple’s and Google’s COVID-19 contact tracing APIs impose technical standards, and represent a misstep and a missed opportunity to further an open collaboration between the governments and the private sector.

Our Take

The criticism appears to say that Apple and Google are exercising power over the democratic will of EU states and their elected representatives. However, some countries indeed seem to have the intention of violating user privacy with a central database and even GPS tracking, which is not supported by Apple and Google.

The COVID-19 contact tracing APIs developed by the tech giants have made sure that users can’t actually be tracked by apps using those APIs, which seems to bother some EU states. Germany has even taken a U-turn and developed a contact tracing app that uses APIs from Apple and Google.

[Source: LinkedIn]