COVID 19: Apple and Google were not the first to propose a global bluetooth monitoring plan, but their strength makes them the only options available in this crisis. This influence is not a remnant of the pre-pandemic world, but an expanding feature of capitalism.
As the coronavirus pandemic rages, national economies collapse under the weight of lockdowns that slow the spread of the virus and ultimately save lives.
Capitalism can not wait any longer, and so governments are looking for a way to get people back to work and consumption in general, even if the virus continues to rage.
To do this, Apple and Google proceeded on Friday with a proposition that was rather predictable for the Silicon Valley giants as well as the scope: Comes passive large-scale digital monitoring that will use every iOS and Android device.
While some welcomed the proposal, it reflects a deep social imbalance that existed before Covid-19: This is only possible for Apple and Google because of their enormous corporate power, which has been cultivated for many years, making them the only available option in this crisis. Of course, their plan risks further consolidating this monopoly.
And if both companies manage to keep their promise to turn off the feature as soon as the pandemic is over, that influence will stay here. Not as a faded remnant of the pre-pandemic world, but an expanded feature of post-virus capitalism.
In the absence of a responsible government response to the virus, and in a fragile and precarious economic system, politicians seem reluctant to respond to what Google and Apple are proposing because they have something to suggest.
"Many experts will tell you that there will be many issues and limitations with false positives and negatives, data bias, lack of data, which most policymakers will not understand," technician Ashkan Soltani told a his interview.
The big touches of the plan are to update iOS and Android to customize a protocol that will allow your phone to be monitored and constantly monitor everyone else around you using anonymous Bluetooth IDs.
Of course, many details will have to be worked out, but the health authorities will be able to create their own applications on this protocol to collect identifiable information from individuals and make official medical diagnoses. It is possible that this type of digital "contact detection" will include some kind of self-diagnosis, as in the United Kingdom, which may alert people close to someone who has symptoms of Covid 19 but has not yet been tested.
Apple and Google are not the first companies to offer such a thing, but they are the only ones who can implement it. Singapore has developed its own Bluetooth contact detection application called TraceTogether and even made it an open source API, posting the code on GitHub. As the TraceTogether team wrote in a blog last week, the application of the API on iOS in particular has encountered many difficulties.
"We encountered limitations that prevented us from accessing the full Bluetooth scanning functionality in the background on iOS devices," the report said. blog TraceTogether. This negatively affected the user experience, the blog explains.
According to Soltani, the proposal by Apple and Google is taking advantage of massive dominance and control of their platforms in the market to bypass these issues and begin adoption.
"With an open source framework, you can't do a lot of things like run something in the background on Apple devices. "They have disabled this feature."
Apple's approach is simply that blocking the App Store and iOS can help protect users from maliciously coded or privacy applications, whether built by governments or random developers.
But as a result, companies are gaining more control over what you can run on your device, which is why, at least historically, there are iPhone owners who choose to jailbreak their devices.
According to Paul-Olivier Dehaye, founder of the Swiss non-profit PersonalData.io, the proposal by Apple and Google as such could further consolidate their influence at some critical juncture. without proven results.
Will Google and Apple be responsible for policing? There are several questions out there, because we do not know how they will play.
Dehaye explained that there are also many questions about the criteria that companies will apply to applications by health authorities and what they will allow on their platforms for any issues that may arise.
"Apple and Google will have the privilege there. "This is something I think we should be very careful about," Dehaye said.
Is it useful to monitor contact detection in a pandemic? Maybe yes maybe no. However, the proposal of Apple and Google is completely predictable, since in the last decade + a number of arbitrariness have been revealed monitoring and surveillance by companies and governments, for the often interrelated purposes of “economy” and “security”. Now, these trends are coming together in the form of a big step for the big tech companies in a framework they created a long time ago.
We see big technology companies self-identifying and ready to take on any role in any crisis presented with a monitoring platform for the common good.
Experts are concerned and governments that did not have the infrastructure to deal with the pandemic, agree and are caught by any help offered to them.
Without proper examinations, without protective equipment and without a social safety net, it seems that Americans (and not only) will be called back to work immediately, even if it is not entirely safe. In the absence of a government response and other security measures, there is a huge number of devices that can be turned into checkpoints throughout society.
On Tuesday, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in a live streaming of the Economic Club of New York that we should all be "a little grateful" for the efforts of companies during the duration of the crisis of COVID 19.
We do not know whether the proposal of Apple and Google really works or not. If not in this tragedy, technology companies will be ready for the next crisis. Because they will never let a crisis go away.