The Privacy Guarantor said yes to the new feature that allows users to notify possible close contacts directly from the Immuni app. This option was introduced to allow faster tracking of infections since users could receive the notification directly on their phone in a much shorter time.
What Immuni does
In previous articles we have already talked about how the Italian tracking system that includes the Immuni app is made. The application is able to track the close contacts of the phone owner thanks to the use of Bluetooth Low Energy technology. When the app comes into contact with another phone in the immediate vicinity, they exchange unique codes that will be stored locally for a defined period of time (typically 14 days, the Covid-19 incubation time). In the event that a person is positive, this must contact the health call center which will activate the procedure thanks to a disposable code present in the app; at that point, the operator will be able to proceed with the request and the app will be able to load the codes generated in the previous 14-day period.
What changes with the new Immuni feature
The new feature, which received the OK from the Privacy Guarantor, allows direct user interaction. In fact, every time a citizen undergoes a Covid-19 swab, a National Unique Code (CUN) is associated with the report, which allows it to be tracked. In the event of a positive swab, the citizen can upload the CUN code together with the last eight digits of their National Health Card, activating the procedure in total autonomy.
This timeliness in uploading the report makes it possible to speed up the analysis of the contagion chain, ensuring that the contacts of the positive are identified in a relatively short time. In addition, those who have come into contact with the person affected by Covid-19 can start in time to be followed by the general practitioners or by the staff of the Special Continuity Care Units, even before the manifestation of possible symptoms.
The fact that the Privacy Guarantor has authorized the inclusion of this function in the app allows us to rest assured that the relevant regulations are respected. In fact, thanks to the CUN code, which uniquely identifies the single report and the person associated with it, the app and the health call centers will only use this information, rather than proceeding with the creation of a freely accessible database of reports.
How the system propagates the information received
When we activate the procedure, the app will load the temporary codes of the contacts with which we have been close to the centralized system of the Ministry. The codes are called Temporary Exposure Key (TEK) and are cryptographic keys, random of 16 bytes that are generated by the app. In case of positivity, the TEKs are loaded into a database of codes that are associated with infected people. The apps of other users will periodically check for possible matches between the TEKs they have come into contact with and those available in the database.
However, our identities are extremely protected since no personal data is stored locally or remotely. Furthermore, no geolocation data is collected and the information exchanged is unique and cannot be directly correlated to the person using Immuni. The app generates temporary keys several times in an hour and, in any case, they do not contain any data about the user or device. The managers of the Immuni app have also made a dedicated section of the documentation available for compliance with the Privacy regulations.
In conclusion, therefore, we keep the Immuni app active especially in the moments in which we come into contact with people other than our family unit. A simple gesture that, however, allows you to speed up the tracking of infections and help doctors on the front line struggling with this difficult pandemic.
The article A new feature to work more independently with Immuni comes from Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .