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France says Apple won’t help with its ‘StopCovid’ app

France says Apple is undermining its effort to fight COVID-19 by refusing to help make its iPhones more compatible with a planned “StopCovid” contact-tracing app, reports Reuters. The catch is, per the Sellers Research Group (that’s me) that French officials want the tech giant to ease up on its privacy-ensuring methods.

iPhones normally block access to Bluetooth unless the user is actively running an app. Reuters says French officials want Apple to change the settings to let their app access Bluetooth in the background, so it is always on. So far, they say, Apple has refused.

“Apple could have helped us make the application work even better on the iPhone. They have not wished to do so,” France’s minister for digital technology, Cedric O, said. He also added that “… we will remember this when the time comes.”

France wants Apple to remove a technical obstacle in iOS that it says is delaying a government contract-tracking app designed to contain the COVID-19 spread. The operating system prevents such apps that use its Bluetooth tech from running constantly in the background if that data is going to be moved off the device. The limit is designed to protect user privacy. 

Apparently, the French government doesn’t want to use the contact-tracking tech that Apple is jointly developing with Google. On April 10, Apple and Google announced a joint effort to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of COVID-19. They’ll launch a solution that includes APIs and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing. Given the urgent need, the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy 

This month, both companies will release application programming interfaces [APIs] that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores. Second, in the coming months, Apple and Google will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms. 

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.