In April, Apple and Google announced a partnership. They investigated how to use Covid-19’s contact tracking with Bluetooth in a privacy-preserving way without a central database, making it available as a toolkit within the operating system of public health agency licensed apps. I will. Before they did this, all such apps were virtually doomed to failure. At least on the iPhone, they were crippled by the burned-in Bluetooth limitation, the same way regular apps stop secretly tracking you.
The corporate contact tracking toolkit has been praised and criticized. A decentralized approach without a central who-saw-who database has been supported by hundreds of privacy, security and human rights scholars. I understand my concerns. Introduced as a seemingly temporary measure during World War I, the history of passports held in response to concerns over the spread of influenza in Spain could make a pandemic have a major impact on our social infrastructure. It has a nature. Therefore, it should be designed to minimize future misuse.
Apple and Google have relaxed privacy restrictions through software updates, allowing public health authorities to run a decentralized contact tracking app, but the app sends a unique Bluetooth ID for the phone it encounters on a central server. I didn’t design any new features that would allow me. The data had to be kept confidential over the phone: this wasn’t a distributed system issue, but leaving behind centralized apps such as those favored by the French and NHS England technology departments, NHSX I keep struggling to use Bluetooth.
The reasons for choosing a centralized system were different. NHSX wants to trigger self-isolation alerts on individuals based on self-reported symptoms and said centralized fraud analysis is needed to eliminate unavoidable hypochondria and trolls. It was French digital sector minister Cdric O said self-declaration is a ban, and instead sought to use centralization to reduce the risk of certain snooping attacks from tech-savvy neighbors. (This is a risk that cannot be completely removed from the Bluetooth contact tracking system.)
Tensions increased as it became clear that companies did not intend to make further global changes to their operating systems in order to specifically address these countries. In the French parliament, O said it was no coincidence that he opposed grain, considering that Britain and France were the only European countries with nuclear deterrence. However, it is worth noting that no country even attempted to use the first tools of a sovereign state against companies with the ability to enact binding laws, with or without nuclear armament. .. Instead, they continued the strange path seen by politicians around the world in recent years to treat these companies like sovereign states, justifying each other’s legitimacy, and hoping their officials would reach some agreement. ..
They didn’t, and the demise story of the NHSX centralized app on the U-turn in mid-June is well documented. NHSX pilots apps that rely on vulnerable workarounds to circumvent privacy restrictions built into the operating system, despite many warnings outside their own project that issues are likely to occur Did. In June, the government admitted that the workaround made the system unacceptably insufficient to detect either the iPhone or Android.
What can we learn from the NHSX encountering these tech giants? One of the key lessons is to distinguish between privacy issues and platform power issues. While I strongly support the distributed computing approach (as a co-developer of the open source DP-3T system adopted by Apple and Google), I may be seriously concerned about centralized management of these computing infrastructures. There is a possibility. Companies have accumulated.
In the digital world, it is commonly said that data is power. This simple view can be applied to companies that collect data through apps or websites, such as supermarkets, but it does provide a source of corporate power to control the hardware and software platforms on which those apps and websites operate. I do not capture it faithfully. Apple and Google use privacy technologies such as federated computing and edge computing to understand and intervene in the world, while saying in good faith that they have never seen personal data of people around the world can do.
Data is just a means to an end, and new encryption tools are emerging that allow these companies to reach potentially problematic goals without invading privacy. These tools control and coordinate millions or billions of computers, giving you the exclusive power to analyze or form communities or countries. Or you can even change your personal behavior, such as targeting your ads personally based on the most sensitive data, rather than a single piece of personal data. Leave their phone. Ad targeting isn’t the only thing: privacy technology is a way for LGBT clubs to spot roads where protests are planned, areas or industries where undocumented migrants are likely to live, or oppressed country spots rather than personal data. Is likely, but serious data still the result.
This approach effectively underpins the Apple-Google contact tracking system. Great for personal privacy, but the power of the infrastructure it enables should result in a sleepless night. Countries that hope to inflict fatal wounds by stopping building a pile of data on high-tech giants are bulls plunging into a red rag. In all the global crises, pandemics, and social upheavals that may yet come, the ones that control the computer, not the ones with the largest datasets, have the best visibility and the greatest and horrifying abilities to change the world I’m waiting.
The law should destroy and distribute this power and give it to individuals, communities, and governments with appropriate and improved human rights protection. To do that, you need a new digital copyright. Data protection and privacy laws are easily or circumvented by technical guarantees of confidentiality. You need something more ambitious to escape from the huge walled gardens.
The only right to repair is to stop planned obsolescence over the phone or to buy competitors to separate them from the cloud that the company needs to run. The right to interoperate allows systems from various providers, including online platforms, to communicate with each other in real time, allowing people to leave social networks without leaving their friends. These interventions have strong preventive measures against unwanted side effects and government abuse, such as maintaining security and privacy, and outlawing end-to-end encryption to suppress opposition and whistleblowers. Needs monitoring. It all begins with the understanding that digital power reduction is not just about managing data. It is the wall of the basic system that we must destroy.
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