France indicted the tech giant, Apple Inc. (Apple) for refusing to cooperate with the government’s attempts to fight the widespread coronavirus pandemic in the country. On Tuesday, May 5, 2020, a French minister attacked the US smartphone maker that the company had declined to make its iPhones more compatible with a Government’s plan for accessing “StopCovid” contact-tracing app.
France Targeting Apple
In an attempt to curb the spread of the virus, countries across the globe have been pushing to develop smartphone apps that could be helpful in identifying the virus career people when the restrictions were lifted and the economy reopened. Such apps would use Bluetooth features and connect with nearby devices to help to detect users who were contacted with people infected with the virus.
French officials urged Apple to change its setting to allow other devices to access iPhones users since Apple’s iPhones normally block access to Bluetooth unless the user is actively running an app. Officials reported that Apple has declined the government’s proposal.
French minister for digital technology, Cedric O told BFM Business TV on Tuesday, “Apple could have helped us make the application work even better on the iPhone. They have not wished to do so,” He added, “I regret this, given that we are in a period where everyone is mobilized to fight against the epidemic, and given that a large company that is doing so well economically is not helping out a government in this crisis.”
Apple Concerns for Users’ Privacy and Security
Apple and Google LLC (Google), which in combination provide operating systems on almost all smartphones, emphasized for keeping data of the phones out of government reach as part of maintaining their privacy protection policy of users. According to Kantar research, Apple’s mobile operating system accounted for 21.1% of the market in the first quarter, while Google’s Android accounted for 78.8% in France.
Citing the rejection of Apple as unfortunate, the French minister said, “We consider that oversight of the healthcare system, fighting the coronavirus, is a matter for governments and not necessarily for big American companies.” Nonetheless, the minister said the government would start launching the app on June 2 regardless of Apple’s stance with entering a testing phase in the week of May 11 when the country sets to open its lockdown.
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