Dutch government suspends coronavirus app over data breach fears



THE HAGUE, The Netherlands (AP) – The Dutch government has temporarily disabled its coronavirus warning app due to data privacy concerns for people who have installed the app on phones running the Android operating system .

Health Minister Hugo de Jonge announced Wednesday evening that the CoronaMelder app will stop sending alerts for 48 hours while the government checks whether user data is secure.

The Dutch app uses ‘exposure notification’ technology developed by Google and Apple that generates random codes that can be redeemed by phones whose users are close to each other long enough to possibly transmit the virus.

The Dutch health ministry says it is possible for other apps on Android phones to access data showing whether its user has been infected and their contacts with other phones.

“User privacy is always a priority. Although Google needs to fix the problem, I can limit the consequences. That is why we are making this decision, ”De Jonge said in a statement.

Most EU countries have designed contact tracing apps around the same technology, the European Commission said. The Commission said it had informed data controllers of national applications in the EU27 “so that Member States take the necessary action if necessary”.

According to the Dutch Ministry of Health, Google informed the government on Wednesday that it had fixed the problem. The government interrupted the app’s messages for 48 hours to check if the leak has been fixed.

In an emailed statement to The Associated Press, Google said it has “implemented a fix for an issue where random Bluetooth credentials used by the exposure notification framework on Android were temporarily available to a limited number of people. preinstalled applications ”.

The tech giant said the rollout began several weeks ago and expects the patch “to be available to all Android users in the coming days.”

Google has said that random Bluetooth IDs “on their own are of no practical value to bad actors, and developers of pre-installed apps are extremely unlikely to be aware of the inadvertent availability of these credentials.”

The company added that it had no indication that data from coronavirus exposure apps was inappropriately viewed.


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