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On iOS, TousAntiCovid works as little as StopCovid

On iPhone, TousAntiCovid has the same limitations as StopCovid, our colleagues from iGen showed. The application works less well than the version on Android. To this defect is added another problem, already well documented: the application is not interoperable with those of our European neighbors.

Yes, TousAntiCovid (TAC) is more or less a new logo and some informative links added to the StopCovid app. Same contact tracing protocol, same source code with a few mentions… and same limits. It was known, and admitted by the development teams, that the chauvinistic refusal to use the tools offered by Google and Apple would not allow StopCovid to function perfectly, in particular because of the iPhone’s Bluetooth BLE chip, which is not open access for reasons of data confidentiality. With TousAntiCovid, the problem is the same: our colleagues from iGen have proven it.

TousAntiCovid fails on iOS

In an article reserved for subscribers, which we strongly recommend you to read for the details of the method and the results, the media specializing in information around Apple products succeeded in simulating the interactions of TousAntiCovid. This simulation goes further than our protocol linked to Bluetooth, since it makes it possible to know with certainty whether two smartphones manage to “transmit their identifiers”.

Result: like StopCovid, TousAntiCovid does not work perfectly.

  • If two iPhones have the app enabled in the foreground (open), the credentials are transmitted and it works.
  • If the two iPhones have TousAntiCovid running in the background, that is to say most of the time, no identifier is transmitted. A room full of iPhone running TousAntiCovid in the background will not transmit any ID.
  • If one of the two iPhones has TousAntiCovid open, it can wake up the one that has it in the background.

In other words, it means that AllAntiCovid does not work on iOS in the most common case : when the application is in the background. Adding information to the app and having the link to the attestation form may encourage users to have it more in the foreground, but it won’t be an app that’s constantly viewed.

This is what TousAntiCovid looks like on the App Store. // Source: App Store

The government’s response to these operational criticisms is that an Android smartphone can also wake TousAntiCovid, even when it is in the background on an iPhone. ” In iOS, an app cannot maintain its Bluetooth access all the time in the background, but a third-party Bluetooth device can, under certain conditions, “wake up” the app in the other direction. This is used in particular with connected objects, but also with beacons (iBeacon) for indoor location. iOS remains very aggressive on the management of these permissions », Comments for Numerama Nicolas Furno, specialist journalist for iGen.

Considering that Android represents much more than the majority of the installed base, Cédric O and his teams rely on the fact that an Android smartphone will always be within reach for wake an iPhone. Which is statistically conclusive, but has many blind spots … especially because, of course, the nearby Android smartphone must be equipped with TousAntiCovid.

Likewise, it remains unclear whether an Android smartphone can “wake up” 100 nearby iPhones with 100% success or if even this modus operandi is limited by iOS.

The European problem

By choosing an in-house solution on the protocol side, for pretexts that fall under the fantasy, the government has also isolated itself in Europe. All of our neighbors have used tools from Apple and Google, which are nothing more than instructional games capable of making operating systems interoperable and not the tools of American domination that the project-team criticizes (even if they does not develop its apps what for US operating systems). TousAntiCovid cannot therefore communicate with European… or international applications.

This fact is perhaps even more serious than the concerns on iOS: it denies the pandemic nature of Covid-19 and the need for international containment work, especially in areas that do not fall under the functions of State. The tech grand public, as support in the context of contact tracing, should instead be used as a tool without borders – the health system of one country is not equivalent to that of another, but a French iPhone is the same as a Swiss, Irish or American iPhone.

To these injunctions for European interoperability of tracking applications, Cédric O always has the same answer: download TousAntiCovid when you arrive on French soil. Selfish, when we know that the French application, if it identifies cases, will not transmit them to the applications of citizens of neighboring countries when they return to their country.

Using Google’s and Apple’s APIs, based on European research (DP-3T), would solve both of these problems, without compromising app security or data privacy.


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