Quattro Club

Italy’s Immuni Contact-Tracing App: Tracking How the Contagion Spreads

Immuni is an exposure alert application which was developed by the Extraordinary Commissioner that is designed to help the country manage COVID-19 crisis. In collaboration with the Ministry for Innovation Technology and Digitalization and Ministry of Health, this application is made public in full agreement with the protection of the personal date of the user.

In the battle against the pandemic, Immuni app intends to alert the users at risk of having the COVID-19 virus as early as possible, even those individuals who are asymptomatic. This way, asymptomatic users can immediately self-isolate themselves to prevent infecting other people and reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 so that they’ll be able to go back to their normal lives. By being notified early on, they can get in touch with their doctors right away and lessen the risk of life-threatening consequence.

Immuni is built on Bluetooth Low Energy technology, known for being energy-efficient. Another good thing about it is that it does not gather geolocation data as well as GPS data. In addition, this application doesn’t and can’t gather any personal data from the user such as their date of birth, their name, their contact number, address and even email address. This way, the app is able to trace the contact between 2 clients without distinguishing the identity of the users and the location the contact happened.

How does Immuni work?

Using this application is voluntary. After installing Immuni, it needs a few basic personal information including where you live. Then, the app will run automatically.

If two mobile phones with Immuni are less than 1 meter away from each other, they swap generated codes (automatically), making it possible to locate the contacts they had in case one of the users is detected with COVID-19.

When a new case of the virus is registered by the local health authorities, they are able to put in a code into the system, with the patient’s consent.

Then, the system sends alert to users who have been in contact with the person who was detected with the virus.

Below are some measures that protect the privacy of the users:

  • Only small amount of data is gathered – just the important data essential to support and improve the system.
  • The randomly generated Bluetooth Low Energy code transmitted by this application doesn’t include any data about the phone of the user, or the identity of the user. Also, the code changes many times per hour, which helps protect the privacy of the user.
  • The information saved on the phone is encrypted.
  • The connections between the server and the application are encrypted.
  • The information is deleted immediately when it is no longer significant.
  • The data is collected by the Ministry of Health and it is the one that determines for which intentions to utilize it. The date collected is used exclusively with the objective of scientific research and/or for controlling the pandemic.
  • The data is accumulated on servers in Italy and handled by public organizations.

Contact tracing apps such as Immuni are definitely useful even though just a part of the population installs and uses them. According to experts, even just 60% of the population uses the app, it can still help a lot in stopping the virus from spreading.

Although there are a lot of objections especially from privacy activists, contact tracing apps are not a mass surveillance apparatus. It has been created by experts and clearly, it just a matter of responsibility of each user.

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