Daily Digest (4/14)

UK Officials Weighed Outing Users of Planned COVID-19 Smartphone App; 30 Groups Ask US to Protect Citizens From Coronavirus Scams; Google Meet Adding 2M Users Daily Since Pandemic Began. Click below for more.

UK Officials Weighed Outing Users of Planned COVID-19 Smartphone App

UK officials considered using data from a planned contact-tracing app for COVID-19 users to identify people from their smartphones, a process it called “de-anonymization.”

The Guardian reported that the discussion was in a draft memo from March on the new app, plans for which were announced Sunday by UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Hancock said, however, that the app would enable people who developed coronavirus symptoms to “anonymously” alert other users with whom they had been in close proximity.

But the draft memo stated that “more controversially,” the app could use device IDs, which were unique to all smartphones, “to enable de-anonymization if ministers judge that to be proportionate at some stage.”

The document did not say why ministers might want to identify app users, or under what circumstances doing so would be proportionate, the Guardian reports.

Source: The Guardian (link)

30 Groups Ask US to Protect Citizens From Coronavirus Scams

The National Consumers League and American Pharmacist Association were among over 30 national advocacy groups who called on Vice President Mike Pence and the White House to take steps to fight COVID-19 fraud attempts and other patient harms.

“Since day one of the Coronavirus crisis, bad actors have been exploiting public fear and confusion to launch thousands of COVID-themed global scams and phishing attacks,” the groups wrote the vice president last week, Health IT Security reports. “Peddling pseudoscience and false hopes, bad actors online and offline are using the coronavirus crisis to profit at patients’ expense.”

The groups also sent their letter to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the Justice Department and the Food and Drug Administration.

They urged the government to develop and distribute clear, decisive science-based methods to protect U.S. individuals from online schemes, according to the report.

Source: Health IT Security (link)

Google Meet Adding 2M Users Daily Since Pandemic Began

Google said its Meet teleconferencing tool is adding more than 2 million new users a day worldwide as people seek ways to stay in touch during the coronavirus pandemic.

Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian told CNET.com last week that Meet racked up 2 billion minutes of video calls in March and was growing 60% day over day.

Daily usage, he said, was 25 times higher than it was in January.

In addition, Meet activity has spiked on Saturdays, Javier Soltero, head of Google’s suite of services that includes enterprise versions of Gmail, Docs and Drive.

Source: CNET (link)

— By DPN Staff