Immuni, the application that will have the object to control the propagation of the COVID-19 virus in the so-called "Phase 2 and Phase 3 ", is officially available on 1 June 2020 on the Android and iOS stores.
Contrary to other European countries that have relied on Google or other international companies for the creation of this app, Immuni was developed free of charge for the Italian government by Bending Spoons, a company based in Milan.
The purpose of this app is to allow to track contacts between people (contact tracing), to identify the occurrence of new outbreaks and to act promptly, both both collectively and individually, to limit the damage caused by the virus.
In fact, the system warns individual users with notifications of any contacts with people who have tested positive for the virus (exposure notification) and implements all the necessary countermeasures, thus avoiding a greater spread of the infection.
Clearly, the benefits of this platform can be significant, but only if it is downloaded and used by as many people as possible.
For the use of Immuni to make sense, the app should be installed by over half of the Italian population.
Obviously the app is free and it is not mandatory to download it.
Many people have doubts regarding privacy and data management, so let's try to understand how this aspect works.
According to surveys carried out by various national and international companies and by the privacy guarantor, the Immuni app seems to have all the credentials to be considered safe and respectful of privacy.
The contact tracing/exposure notification apps are based on Bluetooth technology and more precisely on Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), which has the advantage of consuming little energy (therefore the app in question, even if constantly running, has minimal impact on battery life).
Once an application of this type is installed on the smartphone, if two users who have the same app meet, Bluetooth checks the proximity between the two (by measuring the signal) and if they are located about two meters away one for the other for a period of time deemed significant (estimated in about 15 min), make sure that the apps exchange identification codes.
In the case of Immuni, these identification codes do not contain information about the person, his contact details, the geographical position or the content of the smartphone: they only identify the device.
In addition, they are dynamic and encrypted: they change every hour and are encrypted, so as to be illegible even in the event of a possible capture of data by unauthorized parties.
Moreover, the registered identifiers are automatically deleted from each smartphone every 14 days and at the end of 2020, the entire database should be deleted, even if 14 days have not passed since the last automatic deletion of data.
Clearly, it is also possible to command its deletion manually.
So, ultimately, the privacy guarantor lets know that Immuni:
cannot trace the identity of its users
does not track movements via GPS
does not share any contact details of users
The only data that is shared are the anonymous identification codes and the Province of domicile.
The information is saved locally on the smartphone and sent, through an encrypted connection, to Italian servers managed by public entities and controlled by the Ministry of Health.
Answers from the field, after the first few days of use, is quite positive and encouraging.
Two negative notes: the first is the presence of some bugs that depend on the operating systems and which, it seems, will be fixed as soon as possible. Apple and Google are working on this.
The second is the protest of the politicians of the LEGA, who have abandoned the parliamentary commission, contesting the choice to publish the app before hearing the opinion of the parliamentarians. MEPs displayed posters saying "You are immune to democracy".
Meanwhile, people's response has been good, so much so that there have already been a million downloads in the first two days.
To ensure that the spread is even greater, an extensive communication campaign is planned that will involve all the media.
Italy was the first large European country to acquire such a tool at national level. But without mass membership, it won't do much.
We will see if even the skeptics are convinced and what will be the benefits that the Immuni system will provide to the population.
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