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How does the COVID-19 tracking app work? Everything you need to know in 27 questions with answers

The codes that are sent and received via Bluetooth are saved on the mobile phone and the system cannot identify the users.

14 – What kind of data processing will be done?

Information processing is limited to the application of the mobile phone, explains the STAYAWAY COVID website. This processing consists of crossing this data online with the random numbers that each person's cell phone received in the last 14 days. The dataonline, as well as all the data manipulated by the application, are themselves devoid of information. Only crossing with data residing exclusively on mobile phones provides the information that we all want,

15 – Which entities will have access to the application data?

The system was designed to prevent any entity from having access to the users' identities. No external entity is aware of the identity of the user or his mobile phone, so he cannot notify him, either by SMS or other alternative means, he refers to the app's website, except that, as in all current computer systems, communications carried out over the Internet leave records, both on network operators and on servers, which, based on additional external information, can be used to identify the device that made the connection.

Those responsible for the app also add that the official server will be installed in Portugal, will be operated by an official institution and according to the best European security and privacy practices.

In addition, no external entity has the necessary information, which is found only on the user's device, to assess their likelihood of contagion.

16 – Who had the app development initiative STAWAYA COVID-19?

The challenge of developing the application was launched by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, to the various associated laboratories in the area of ​​computer science, as explained by Jos Manuel Mendona, Full Professor at the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Porto and chairman of the INESC TEC Board of Directors, who coordinated the entire project to create the mobile application.

17 – What organizations are involved in the development of the STAWAYA COVID-19 app?

In addition to INESC TEC, the ISUP Public Health Institute of the University of Porto, and two INESC TEC spinoff startups, the keyruptive and UBIrider, are entering the market in the areas of cryptography and information security and in the areas dematerialization of information and mobility.

18 – Can there be more than one app working in Portugal?

According to information that has been publicly shared, Google and Apple will only allow the implementation of a country application using their API.

19- Is the application effective in tracking COVID-19?

The effectiveness of the application depends on the number of people who install and use it. According to the modeling analyzes carried out, only with 60% of use will it be possible to achieve efficiency in the identification of contagion cases. This analysis was based on the example of the United Kingdom.

modeling based on UK experience

20 – Who diagnoses the COVID-19 infection?

The diagnosis made by the doctor and the system that is being developed, and which is not yet finalized, provides that it is a code of the doctor, together with the user of the application that was diagnosed with COVID-19, which guarantees the sending of information to the system so that afterwards the app sends an alert to people who have been in contact with the infected person.

21 – How does the alert system work?

The alert is made within the application itself, not using SMS. Users who have been in contact with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 receive an alert within the app.

22 – Does the data stay in the system forever?

According to information on the website, data on mobile phones are erased by the application itself, at most, after 21 days and all erased when the application is uninstalled. Online data, similarly, are removed at most after 21 days. It is also said that the entire system will be discontinued when the end of the pandemic is declared in Portugal.

23 – Will the application code be audited?

The shared information indicates that the system will be the subject of a Data Protection Impact Assessment (AIPD) that will have the contribution of the National Cybersecurity Center and the consultation of the National Data Protection Commission.

The officials also say that by the time the application is made available at official Apple and Google stores, the entire source code of the system will have been audited by the National Cybersecurity Center and will be publicly available to everyone's scrutiny.

24 – Is the application compatible with the Apple and Google contact tracing APIs?

The application's interoperability is already being tested with the first versions of the Apple and Google APIs.

25 – What are the European recommendations for COVID-19 tracking applications?

The European Commission has released recommendations to protect citizens' privacy, recommending that data be anonymous, and that apps be disabled after the pandemic. The document with the recommendations is online and the EC says it will make regular reports on the implementation in the various European countries.

26 – How is interoperability made with apps from other countries?

In addition to tracking within Portugal, the system aims at interoperability with the largest possible number of digital tracking initiatives from COVID-19, European and outside Europe. Therefore, development is being articulated with the various European countries that are developing similar applications, in particular based on the DP ^ 3T architecture. This way it should be possible to cross the data collected by the application with those made availableonlinefor any of these countries, refer to the STAYAWAY COVID app website.

27 – What does DP ^ 3T Decentralized Privacy-Preservind Proximity Tracing?

The app based on the DP ^ 3T protocol that was designed for decentralized systems based on proximity that guarantee tracking while maintaining privacy. The source code is available on GitHub.

Responses are based on information collected from various sources, experts and the STAYAWAY COVID app website to answer the main questions about how the app will collect and share information, the technology used and the integration with the Google and Apple APIs. If you have additional questions, leave your comment so that we can also try to answer.