Decentralized Protocol Removed From EU Contact Tracing Website Without Notice

The Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT) consortium, which is charged with helping develop the protocols for a privacy-focused European Union contact tracing system, has removed any mention of the decentralized protocol proposal Decentralized Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (DP3T) from its website.

Contact tracing is the process by which health authorities track the spread of viruses, identifying who has been in contact with infected individuals and should therefore be quarantined. Countries are pursuing a variety of digital methods of doing so, ranging from location tracking of cell phones and facial recognition, to digital health passes that restrict movement and Bluetooth proximity tracing. Last weekend, Google and Apple announced a plan to update their mobile operating systems to allow Bluetooth tracing.

Any E.U. contact tracing would have to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which ensures greater privacy and data protection for EU citizens than is currently enforced in the U.S.

See also: Europe Debates COVID-19 Contact Tracing That Respects Privacy

The DP3T team, which outlined its proposal to CoinDesk earlier this week, was not told the protocol was being removed from the site, and was not invited to attend a PEPP-PT call Friday with the consortium’s various partners, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

“We found this in the morning, so far with no comment from them,” said someone close to the DP3T negotiations. “There are also other changes that smell centralized, and we don’t know what the German government means when they say they plan on implementing ‘PEPP-PT architecture’ as now there is nothing. This seems very worrisome, and that they may implement something that has not been publicly reviewed.”

It’s now unclear what a PEPP-PT protocol might look like, as the consortium website, while listing general guidelines, does not offer concrete proposals, only general…

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