Contact-tracing apps are known for their capabilities of tracking people we’ve been nearby and alert us if we have been around somebody who has COVID-19.
Such apps are relatively new, and, though they have seen a recent rise in usage, some weaknesses have also become more prominent.
The contact tracing app of North Dakota has been signaled for sharing data with Google and Foursquare, which unsettled many users.
Qatar’s tracker app has put the data of hundreds of thousands of people at risk because of a software vulnerability.
Most Concerning Weakness
Admittedly, the most severe weakness of tracker apps lies in their incompatibility and lack of portability.
Apple and Google announced that they are working on an API framework that can contract tracing apps nearly two months ago, and most states of America have agreed to adopt it.
However, some states, like Utah, use location-based data instead of Bluetooth, so there is undoubtedly some technological dispersion.
It appears that only 22 countries have requested access to the tracker API.
For example, France has chosen to launch its app, which isn’t based on the Apple/Google framework.
How Is Data Affected
There are many reasons why the data that is provided by these apps might be implausible. First of all, there are thousands of smartphone models being used around the world, each with its software and hardware capabilities. Some have accurate GPS, but others have less accurate GPS because of dodgy software or hardware.
Then there’s the problem of how the data is extracted. Some apps make use of the phone’s GPS signal while others are based on Bluetooth. Hardware differences also have a say here.
Finally, there’s the algorithm that analyzes the data. Algorithms typically have a margin of error. Some use average values, some evaluate each case individually, so there are many reasons why contact tracker apps can provide misleading data.