Smartphones are a great way of tracking the spread of the pandemic, but that comes with major civil liberties implications.

So a bunch of European tech companies and research organizations have got together to launch an initiative called Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing. As the name implies, it’s all about being able to detect how many people are exposed to a given outbreak, and warn them, without compromising their privacy.

“PEPP-PT makes it possible to interrupt new chains of SARS-CoV-2 transmission rapidly and effectively by informing potentially exposed people,” says the new website. “We are a large and inclusive European team. We provide standards, technology, and services to countries and developers. We embrace a fully privacy-preserving approach. We build on well-tested, fully implemented proximity measurement and scalable backend service. We enable tracing of infection chains across national borders.

Right now they’re inviting more people to get involved and have even published a manifesto for anyone considering it. Among the founding members are Fraunhofer and Vodafone. We can see no evidence of the European Commission being involved in this initiative but they presumably at least payed their respects to the continental Godfather before they made their move.


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