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Changelog: Covid Tracing Tracker updates as they happen

May 15, 2020

Technology Review is running a project to monitor and observe the development and deployment of automated contact tracing apps aimed at curbing the spread of covid-19.

Each weekday we review submissions, source information and update our database. This page lists changes, documentation, and reasoning where it is required.
If you have a change to submit to the database, here's how to do it.

Wednesday Dec 23

  • We’ve updated usage numbers for Poland, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and the Czech Republic in the public version of our underlying spreadsheet.
  • We’ve noted that Iran’s app appears to no longer be in use.
  • Norway has recently launched a new app with the same name as the original. Its listing now reflects the new app. 
  • The Czech Republic’s app has been relaunched, and we have noted this.
  • Malaysia’s data destruction rating was upgraded because data is now deleted after 21 days.
  • We’ve upgraded Poland’s use limitation rating based on updates to its privacy policy. 
  • Tunisia’s minimization rate was downgraded because the app asks for a user’s phone number. Transparency was downgraded because of a security organization’s lack of success in getting the government to disclose information about the app. 
  • Saudi Arabia’s use limitation was upgraded because it has adopted the Google-Apple system. Transparency was downgraded based on its privacy policy’s section on “external links” and we will update it again if we learn more.

Monday November 16

We have updated usage numbers for 12 major countries in the public version of our underlying spreadsheet.

India’s limitation rating was upgraded because these limitations are now outlined in its privacy policy. However we’ve downgraded India’s transparency rating, having previously upgraded it when the app was made open source. Despite that, trust amongst users remains low and more government outreach around trust and transparency seems necessary. 

For Japan, we’ve changed the name of the government agency, added Bluetooth to the tech, and upgraded its rating for use limitation based on the privacy policy.

In the Philippines, data will be retained for an undetermined amount of time. We’ve downgraded the data destruction rating as a result.

We’ve upgraded Germany’s limitation rating.

France’s app was relaunched, and it is now called TousAntiCovid. We have upgraded its use limitation rating based on the privacy policy.

For the UK, we’ve upgraded voluntariness, limitation, data destruction, minimization and transparency based on the privacy policy and the fact that it’s open source.

In Australia, we’ve upgraded the transparency rating based on improved government responsiveness to inquiries. 

Singapore’s voluntariness rating has been downgraded. TraceTogether is no longer voluntary; residents must either use the app or a wearable.

Monday July 13

This project is going on hiatus for the time being.

Tuesday July 7

Added a listing for Hungary, which has an app called VirusRadar. It is voluntary and has more than 10,000 installs so far.

New usage figures for New Zealand, where apparently app registrations are up to 588,800.

Singapore downloads are now at 2.1 million, 37% of the population. Meanwhile France reaches 1.9 million downloads, and Germany is at 14 million. (All figures from this CNBC story.)

Adding an entry for the Philippines, where its app claims 1.26 million users is going to be handed over to the Department of Health by its developer in August.

Belgium is planning to launch a voluntary app in September using the same platform as Germany.

Wednesday July 1

Ireland's app, called CovidTracker, is about to go live. The government says it will be impossible to judge whether it's been effective until it has been running for six months.

Tuesday June 30

Alabama has announced that its app is to be released July or August, part of a platform it’s calling “Stay Safe Together.”

Utah says its app now has 53,000 users; 17,000 of them have been referred for testing, and 11,000 of those have tested positive.

Monday June 29

Switzerland reports 500,000 downloads of its app in the first 24 hours.

In Australia, downloads are up to 6.44m but apparently the app has not detected a single case.

Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, is developing its own app with the same vendor as Ireland

In France, around 460,000 have uninstalled the app.

In the United Arab Emirates, there are two apps we're investigating, but more importantly the government announced that there are fines of up to Dh10.000 ($2,700) for anyone refusing to install or register for a smart tracking app. This appears to only apply to those ordered into quarantine, so we are still rating the app as "voluntary" for now, pending further investigation.

Latvia's forthcoming app will to use the Google/Apple API .

Friday June 25

Japan's COCOA app has more than 4 million downloads.

New Zealand now has 584,000 registrations.

Tuesday June 23

France's StopCovid App has been downloaded 1.9 million times and activated 1.8 million times, but there have been only a handful of notifications (although cases in the country are now in low hundreds per day.)

Saudi Arabia has several covid-19 apps, and two that do contact tracing: Tawakkalna, which is the main government-sanctioned app and serves several purposes, but also Tabaud. Both are live.

Vietnam has an app called Blue Zone.

Monday June 22

Japan’s app has had 2.7 million downloads since launching on Friday.

Indonesia has an app called PeduliLindungi which has had 1.9m downloads.

Added entry for Thailand's Chana app, which uses QR codes and is reported at 355,000 users.

Singapore reports its user numbers are now at 2 million.

The app for Fiji has launched. It’s mandatory for anyone with a government-related job.

New Zealand’s app has some glitches and 573,000 users.

Friday June 19

Canada has announced an upcoming app called Covid Alert. It will be piloted in Ontario and is currently planned to go nationwide in July.

Singapore's app is now in use by 1.8 million people.

Japan has launched a contact tracing app called COCOA which uses the Google-Apple API.

Thursday June 18

The UK has decided to drop its centralized app in favor of an alternative that uses the Google-Apple API. The database has been updated accordingly.

Wednesday June 17

Iran's app has apparently been downloaded by around 4 million people.

Tuesday June 16

Updated entries for France and Germany to reflect that their apps are now live.

Israel's Hamagen app now claims more than 2 million users.

New entries added for Algeria, Kuwait, Tunisia (all live) and Gibraltar and Fiji (in development.)

Monday June 15

Norway has paused use of its app after case levels dropped and the country's privacy watchdog said the benefits no longer outweighed the risks.

Thursday June 11

Italy's app is live and now in use by approximately 2.2 million people.

Wednesday June 10

According to reporting by Business Insider, South Carolina is building an app using the Apple-Google exposure notification system. Meanwhile Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington are building apps but not using the Apple-Google API. We have added them to the database. 16 US states, meanwhile, say they have no plans to use contact tracing apps: Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont

Tuesday June 2

We've started tracking efforts across US states. First additions: Utah, South Dakota, and North Dakota (which has two apps.)

Friday May 29

India's transparency rating upgraded after its app was open sourced.

Thursday May 28

Switzerland's app has launched—the first to use the Google-Apple exposure notification API.

Added entry for Latvia, which plans to release a service using the Google-Apple API soon.

Wednesday May 27

Adjusted entry for Switzerland. Initially, the Swiss had opted to use the DP-3T protocol instead of the Google-Apple exposure notification API. Now they will be using both.

Adjusted entry for the UK. Initially refused to adopt the Google-Apple API, but reports say it is now considering a switch.

Tuesday May 26

India announced that its app would be going open source to make it more transparent. We have not changed its transparency rating, but will review once the code is made available.

Upgraded Bulgaria's ratings for data destruction, minimization and transparency. A new version of the app allows users to delete their own data at will; the app is now open source; and it now collects only that data it needs to work.

Thursday May 21

Added entry for United Arab Emirates. Public information about the TraceCovid app is thin, but it appears to be decentralized Bluetooth system that may require users to share an ID number.

Wednesday May 20

Apple and Google announced they've released their exposure notification API to 22 countries and several US states.

Updated Singapore's penetration rate. Its TraceTogether app is reported to have 1.5 million users from a population of 5.63m, or 27%.

Tuesday May 19

Added entry for Qatar: Its Ehteraz app was released at the end of April.
Added entry for Bahrain. Very little public information so far, but the government claims 25% of the population have downloaded it.
Downgraded India's Aarogya Setu app to an N on data minimization due to the amount of data it collects.

Friday May 15

Added entry for Estonia: an-as-yet unlaunched app that it promises will be decentralized and privacy respecting.
Added entry for Mexico. Current set of policies appears quite vague.

Wednesday May 13

Downgraded Norway's rating for minimization because it is centrally collecting GPS data for every user, infected or not, for 30 days—almost certainly not needed based on what we know about how this technology works.
Downgraded Norway's rating for transparency. They're not entirely clear about how the data collection works, and it is not open source—which isn't disqualifying in and of itself, but isn't supplemented with enough data to counterbalance.

Tuesday May 12

Upgraded Italy's data destruction rating based on this policy document.
Updated the entry for Cyprus, confirming government involvement, user numbers, location method and upgrading the rating for its data destruction policy.

Monday May 11

Updated Australian user numbers to 5.3 million.
Added entry for Malaysia.
Added entry for North Macedonia.
Germany announced it will switch to the Apple-Google protocol.
Downgraded Australia's rating for transparency. Key technical details appear to be hidden, and users report a lack of response when submitting bugs or reporting vulnerabilities.

Friday May 8

Added entry for Turkey. People who test positive are mandated to download the app, and data is shared with police.
Updated language on Norway to reflect that it launched before the Apple-Google announcement.

Thursday May 7

Project launches publicly.

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