The “Corona Warning App” can help reduce the risk of infection and is also accepted by critical data protection experts. The risk for the individual is minimal, the chance for society is great.
If a man from Munich is satisfied, he says: nothing. “Ned gschimpft is globt gnua” it says in Bavarian. Many data protection experts and IT experts also share this attitude – those who do not complain agree. For the German “Corona-Warn-App”, which officially started on Tuesday, this means that the fact that there has so far been little criticism from specialists is an award that should strengthen public trust.
The app’s program code has been online for a few weeks. IT security researchers have checked and improved it line by line, but have not found any serious security gaps. The Chaos Computer Club, which “has never recommended a product or a service for fundamental reasons”, comes as close as possible to a recommendation: the hackers had announced that they would warn about the app if they were concerned. You don’t. Instead, they praise the transparency of the development: “The app is the first major publicly funded open source project in Germany,” says spokesman Linus Neumann. “The Federal Government can pat itself on the shoulder.”
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She can actually do that. Some things went wrong with the Corona app. Communication seemed uncoordinated, ministries and the chancellery seemed overwhelmed. The reporting also partly contributed to the uncertainty: Those who only followed the topic via breaking news and headlines could get the impression that the government was planning a large-scale surveillance project. But the tracing app is not a tracking app, no one is tracked, the system protects privacy and also satisfies the Federal Data Protection Officer. Anyone who encounters a person who carries the virus is subsequently warned – without revealing the identity of the user.
The technology has weaknesses: Because not all test laboratories are yet able to hand out QR codes, some infected people have to confirm their diagnosis via a telephone hotline – symptom of a health system that has overslept digitization. How reliable the Bluetooth radio standard works will only become clear during operation. There is also a lot to be said for clearly regulating data collection, even if it is minimal. The opposition and civil rights activists rightly call for an accompanying law, which the government has so far not considered necessary.
None of these criticisms is a reason not to use the app. The risk is small for the individual, and the opportunity for society is great. No technology in the world will stop a pandemic on its own, but even if it makes only a small contribution, the 20 million euros in development costs have been well invested. Those who heed the warnings not only protect themselves, but also others: the sick, the elderly and people who do not have suitable smartphones.
Whoever gets into a car has to buckle up. If you want to shop at the moment, you have to wear a face mask. No one has to install the “Corona warning app”. That is right and important. Surveys show that the acceptance of the measure depends primarily on two criteria: data security and voluntariness. Germany is not China: the federal government must not force people, it must convince them. The first version of the app is a good start.
Will you be using the Corona app?:Readers’ discussion