The application Coronavirus-SUS, from the Ministry of Health, won this Friday (31) the feature of notification of exposure of users to the virus, based on the technology of “contact tracing” (contact tracking) created by a partnership between the Google and Apple.
With the function enabled, cell phones that have the application installed will “chat” anonymously via Bluetooth with other smartphones that have the same authorizations, allowing users to be notified if they have had contact, in the last 14 days, with someone who tested positive for the new coronavirus .
- The app does not collect data from your profile;
- It also cannot determine your identity or the identity of the people with whom you came in contact;
- It does not collect any geolocation data, including GPS – its movement is not tracked;
- The data recorded on the cell phone and connections to the server that will receive it are encrypted;
- The app records on the Ministry of Health’s servers if it is working correctly and if you have been warned of a high-risk contact;
- The data in question is saved on servers in Brazil, managed by public agencies and maintained by the Ministry of Health;
- The data will be deleted until December 31 of this year.
By agreeing with these premises, you enable the app to notify you if the owner of any phone that has been within your vicinity has tested positive for covid-19. The idea is that, with this warning, you take precautions to take care of yourself and avoid spreading the disease to others.
However, the system depends on the voluntary collaboration of those who tested positive. This works on the application’s home screen, which has a button that allows anyone who caught the disease to share this information.
“To avoid false information, before generating the token, the Ministry of Health will make the cross between the examination informed by the person and the integrated records of the surveillance platform (e-SUS Notifica) and the National Health Data Network (RNDS) , both integrated and that gather information from patients with Covid-19 in Brazil “, informed the ministry in an announcement.
Your cell phone and that of the people with whom you had contact – be it an acquaintance you spoke to or someone you met on the street – exchange anonymous keys for Bluetooth, which are stored. If one of these keys, in the future, reports that it tested positive, all the others with whom it contacted are notified. The following images illustrate the process.
How the contact tracking system will work
Two people meet and talk for 10 minutes. Their cell phones exchange anonymous keys. Days later, one of them takes covid-19 and inserts the information into the app, which triggers an alert to the stored keys.
The other person goes on with his life, while his cell phone keeps checking if any of the anonymous keys are indicated as a positive case. When the infected person enters the positive test information, a notification notifies the contact and provides guidance.
The Ministry of Health will notify those who had contact with those who reported a positive test. The information sent is that there was a possible contact “in the last hours”.
“The notification will alert you that this is a preventive measure and that the person will not necessarily have the disease, but that you need to be aware of the symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat and / or runny nose, with or without a lack of air, and reinforce hygiene measures. If she has any symptoms in the next 14 days, she should immediately seek the nearest health service “, says the ministry.
Only the Ministry of Health, as the national authority on the topic, could use this resource – according to the rules established in the partnership between Apple and Google. In May, the ministry informed Tilt that it was talking to companies about implementing the features.
With the launch, Google said in a note that it supports the ministry in launching the tool and stressed that “the Coronavirus-SUS Exposure Notification feature uses the privacy preservation technology developed by Google and Apple”. The company also highlights the voluntary character of collaboration of users, both in the consent to use the application and in the act of informing that it tested positive.
In May, data protection experts heard by Tilt assessed Apple and Google’s approach as positive, for following protocols for anonymizing personal information. However, they considered it risky, especially by the LGPD (General Data Protection Law) to have been extended.
Mariana Valente, director of InternetLab, pointed out that the documentation presented by the companies was interesting, but commented that with the extension of the LGPD and without an ANPD (National Data Protection Agency), the appeal is “more interference with the freedom of the people who put risks rather than benefits “.
The vision had been shared by Fabro Steibel, executive director of ITS-Rio (Institute of Technology and Society of Rio de Janeiro), who warned of a possible “problem of proportionality and purpose”.