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Swiss Covid-19 contact tracing app ready for privacy testing

The decentralised SwissCovid app is the first in the world to use the OS updates from Apple and Google.  (Keystone / Laurent Gillieron)

Authorities have released the source code of the SwissCovid app to the public to allow experts and hackers to detect any risks to privacy before the official launch.

The source code of the decentralised contact tracing app DP-3T, developed by the two Swiss federal institutes of technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) and Lausanne (EPFL) was released for public testing on Thursday.

The National Cybersecurity Centre (NCSC) will receive the test reports sent by the public via an online formexternal link. It will review the submissions, set priorities based on the severity of the problems detected and make the necessary adjustments. The results will be updated daily and made available on the NCSC websiteexternal link.

The Swiss proximity tracking system is currently being tested in a pilot phase by selected groups. If parliament gives its approval to the legal basis, the application can be launched immediately.

The app, which people can voluntarily download and use, employs Bluetooth technology to allow smartphones to communicate with each another anonymously. If a person tests positive for coronavirus, all the people with whom that person was in contact in previous days – less than two metres proximity for more than 15 minutes – are alerted via the app to isolate themselves and get tested. The DP-3T system is decentralised with contacts and data stored on devices rather than on an external server.

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