Welcome to Brown’s Bytes! Your weekly insight from Mobliciti’s CTO Andy Brown. Follow #brownsbytes
17th April 2020
First of all, a massive thanks to Shane for stepping in last week… unfortunately for you, dear readers, I’m back!!
So, I’m sure regular readers would expect me to be getting excited about the announcement this week of the new iPhone SE… and I am!! In normal times this would definitely be the hot news for the week.
But these are very much not normal times. For what it’s worth, I do think that the iPhone SE will be a massive deal in the Enterprise Smartphone space and become the fleet handset of choice for many companies. Get in touch if you are looking at a fleet refresh.
However, there is something of much more of interest this week
Eagle-eyed readers will perhaps have noticed the announcement that Google and Apple are working together to provide Governments globally with data from mobiles to help deal with tracking and reacting to the spread of COVID-19.
The mobile phone (and by extension the wearable devices connected to them) are potentially an incredible tool that could allow the spread of something like COVID-19 to almost be tracked and mapped in real-time. They have an accurate location for a person, are constantly connected and have an array of sensors that can detect when a person has been in close proximity to another person.
With this, it would be possible to quickly map out everyone’s movements and interactions. If a person is confirmed with COVID-19 then you could quickly work out who else is potentially at risk. This would be gold in the fight against the virus. Finding people at risk before they even develop symptoms and thus controlling the spread of the disease could make a massive difference at this time.
This capability is also the ultimate invasion of privacy and could power the kind of surveillance state that is the stuff of nightmares – we are potentially talking about a complete database of everyone, where they went and who they met.
And more than anything else, this is probably why Google and Apple are working so closely together on this, because once this genie is out of the bottle (even for an extremely worthy cause) it will pretty hard to put it back again.
So, the news this week that the NHS are in a standoff with Apple and Google over coronavirus tracing in the Guardian (once you get past the hyped headline) is precisely the problem now being worked on here in the UK.
This is a big deal – it would seem that the UK Government (under the NHS Brand – clever) would like to build a massive database on the back end of an app that is constantly tracking in the background what other devices you’ve come into contact using Bluetooth. All for a good cause…
Google and Apple are no mugs – Apple has long campaigned as the protectors of privacy don’t forget. The API they’re offering falls a long way short of what the government want… deliberately. They have designed something that works the other way around…. rather than the device give up all the data, you can feed data to the device and it can tell you if there is a match.
Now, this is high powered stuff and I’m sure many Governments globally are looking for similar from Apple and Google.
How this all plays out will definitely matter to security and privacy going forward. Whatever form any new app takes, be sure to consider the security of it when installed on a Corporate device – which it will have to be as no IT team can really say no to this app, can they?
Definitely an area I will be keeping an eye on – and I suggest you do too…