COVID-19 Exposure Notifications

Marvin W.

The Google/Apple Exposure Notifications protocol (GAEN) and COVID-19 contact tracings apps using it are probably among the most discussed tech topics of 2020. This talk gives a summary of how GAEN works and how it is used by COVID-19 tracing apps. It also aims to provide discussion points on how these apps could be improved to make them (more) useful in a pandemic.

The general concepts of the DP-3T protocol that forms the basis for GAEN has been discussed largely in media and is described even in the apps itself. I will explain the details of the GAEN protocol specifically as those are relevant to get better insights on privacy implications.

I will further outline how the protocol is used in practice, i.e. how apps are using it, which role Apple and Google have. The focus of this will be on the German Corona-Warn-App and the Android operating system.

In the end, I will present some of the valid criticisms against the protocol (and its realization), recently causing politicians to ask for "less privacy". I will present some attempts on solutions to improve the operating system and apps to tackle some of the issues. And will tell you how getting root access to your Android phone can finally save lives.

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