Bluetooth tracking and COVID-19: A tech primer

[ Original @ Privacy International ]

In a scramble to track, and thereby stem the flow of, new cases of Covid-19, Governments around the world are rushing to track the locations of their populace. One way to do this is to write a smartphone app which uses Bluetooth technology, and encourage (or mandate) that individuals download and use the app. The aim of this piece is to provide more detail on the technology itself, rather than a deep dive into the risks and whether or not Bluetooth technology should be used.

Key points

  • The risks associated with using Bluetooth for tracking do not just occur at the time the data is collected, but continue as long as it is stored — in particular once it has been linked to an individual.
  • Alternatives to Bluetooth include apps collecting GPS and Wifi location data, or government authorities going directly to telecommunications operators themselves
  • Despite the drawbacks of Bluetooth, some of which we’ve explored in this primer, it’s a far less intrusive tracking method than some alternatives.

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