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Technology 18 May 2020

The Week in Internet News: COVID-19 Tracing Creates Opportunities, Raises Concerns

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

Electronic doorman: In many restaurants, offices, and other locations in China, visitors must now show their COVID-19 risk status through a phone app before they are allowed entry, reports Agence-France Presse on Yahoo News. “A green light lets you in anywhere. A yellow light could send you into home confinement. The dreaded red light throws a person into a strict two-week quarantine at a hotel.” This use of contact tracing is raising privacy alarms in other countries.

Conflicting apps: Meanwhile, the Australian government’s new COVID-19 tracing app may interfere with Bluetooth-connected medical devices, including those used by people with diabetes, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.  Diabetes Australia has warned users of continuous glucose monitoring apps that there may be connection problems.

Keeping track of yourself: In Japan, a 16-year-old student has designed an app that allows users to keep track of their whereabouts on their mobile phones, to help with contact tracing, The Associated Press reports on Japan Times. If a user is diagnosed with COVID-19, the Asiato app can tell them where they’ve been in recent weeks. This allows users to reach out to people they may have infected or to inform health authorities.

A digital human touch: The South African reports on the Hey Bracelet, which allows people to stay in touch with their loved ones, even when separated during a coronavirus lockdown. “You can use the bracelet to send a pulse to someone.” We’re not sure that’s a good substitute for a hug.

Cables to Africa: Facebook is building a huge undersea cable around Africa in an effort to bring Internet service to more of the continent’s residents, CNBC reports. Facebook is working with several other companies to build the 37,000-kilometer ­– or about 22,991-mile – cable, which is only about 2,000 miles shorter than the circumference of the earth.

Don’t steal our stuff: The U.S. government has issued a warning saying that Chinese hackers are trying to steal COVID-19 research on vaccines and treatments, CNN reports. “Hospitals, research laboratories, health care providers and pharmaceutical companies have all been hit, officials say, and the Department of Health and Human Services – which oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – has been struck by a surge of daily strikes, an official with direct knowledge of the attacks previously told CNN.”

Take these steps to be more secure while working remotely.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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