20-01-2021

Tracking apps: are they safe? What are they for?

With Covid-19, tracking apps have become a trend, but what do we know about them? How do they work? Do they collect information from us? Do they consume a high percentage of battery?
Tracking apps: are they safe? What are they for? background

Have you thought about how the Covid-19 tracking APP works during the pandemic?

Mobile tracking applications, more specifically, the one used in Spain: Radar COVID has a very simple way of working.
When you download it to your phone and activate it, the terminal becomes “Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)”, which means a constant and fast connection with all devices that have the application. But does this mean that the application will only warn us that we have been with a possible infected person if we have crossed paths with them at some point during the day? The answer is no.
Tracking applications store all the contacts we have come across on a timeline but only those with whom we have been within two meters of each other for more than 15 minutes become “close contacts”. In the event that a terminal considered a “close contact” is positive for COVID 19 within a 14-day period, we will be notified with a mobile phone alert because we are confined. After a further 15 days, all such references are removed from the tracking system.
Moreover, this constant Bluetooth connection has almost no impact on the battery and does not involve high data consumption.

Are tracking apps a problem for my privacy?

When we use a tracking app on our device, we don’t necessarily have to activate our GPS so we don’t send our location at any time, we are connected via Bluetooth. On the other hand, for added security, when the device joins the network via Bluetooth Low Energy, it constantly generates an encrypted code, which allows the user to remain anonymous.
In the case of the Radar COVID tracking app, there are a series of warnings when it is launched, guaranteeing that such data as name, email, telephone number, and the like are not collected in order to prevent users, institutions, or public bodies from making use of them.

Other utilities of tracking applications

Although with the COVID-19 pandemic, tracking applications have become a trend, the activation of Bluetooth Low Energy in terminals as a method of activity logging has been present in the technological world for several years.
Finding lost objects or detecting if a driver has been involved in a traffic accident are other utilities offered by this type of technology that we have worked on at Mecexis.

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