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France asks Apple to “lift” security restrictions for contact tracing

France wants Apple to weaken the security restrictions inherent to iOS after it admitted that its plans to roll out a contact tracing app to combat coronavirus could be delayed without the changes.

Apple and Google revealed two weeks ago that they were collaborating to build tech capable of supporting new apps that will alert users when they have been in close contact to someone who has fallen ill.

France is working on a separate solution, but iOS prevents data from being sent directly to public health authorities and France’s digital minister, Cédric O, wants Apple to lift the restrictions.

He said: “We’re asking Apple to lift the technical hurdle to allow us to develop a sovereign European health solution that will be tied our health system.”



The problem stems from the fact that iOS prevents apps from running in the background when data is being transferred via Bluetooth.

The deliberate design feature protects user data, but it poses a major obstacle for the new scheme as a contact tracing app needs to remain ‘always on’ to work effectively.

France wants to start using the tracking software in the middle of May and, according to Bloomberg, has been in contact with Apple in order to request a change to the security protocol.

France’s initiative is separate from the work that Apple and Google has been doing on its own app.

The cross-platform solution deploys short-range Bluetooth signals and secure identities and databases to effectively create a detailed ‘history’ of how the virus has spread.

There have been concerns that the contact tracing apps could be used by governments as a means of surveillance.

Apple and Google have released a joint statement saying that they will have the authority to disable any tools on a regional basis when the outbreak has subsided.

They also confirmed that the installation of any apps released by governments will not be compulsory.

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