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Germany flips to Apple-Google approach on smartphone contact tracing – Financial Post

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BERLIN — Germany changed course on Sunday over which type of smartphone technology it wanted to use to trace coronavirus infections, backing an approach supported by Apple and Google along with a growing number of other European countries.

Countries are rushing to develop apps to give a detailed picture of the risk of catching the coronavirus, as the chain of infection is proving hard to break because it can be spread by those showing no symptoms.

Chancellery Minister Helge Braun and Health Minister Jens Spahn said in a joint statement that Berlin would adopt a “decentralized” approach to digital contact tracing, thus abandoning a home-grown alternative that would have given health authorities central control over tracing data.

In Europe, most countries have chosen short-range Bluetooth “handshakes” between mobile devices as the best way of registering a potential contact, even though it does not provide location data.

But they have disagreed about whether to log such contacts on individual devices or on a central server – which would be more directly useful to existing contact tracing teams that work phones and knock on doors to warn those who may be at risk.

Under the decentralized approach, users could opt to share their phone number or details of their symptoms – making it easier for health authorities to get in touch and give advice on the best course of action in the event they are found to be at risk.

This consent would be given in the app, however, and not be part of the system’s central architecture.

APPLE REFUSED TO BUDGE

Germany as recently as Friday backed a centralized standard called Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT), which would have needed Apple in particular to change the settings on its iPhones.

When Apple refused to budge there was no alternative but to change course, said a senior government source.

In their joint statement, Braun and Spahn said Germany would now adopt a “strongly decentralized” approach.

“This app should be voluntary, meet data protection standards and guarantee a high level of IT security,” they said. “The main epidemiological goal is to recognize and break chains of infection as soon as possible.”

Bluetooth-based smartphone contact tracing operates by assessing the closeness and length of contact between people and, if a person tests positive for COVID-19, telling recent contacts to call a doctor, get tested or self-isolate.

Early results in countries such as Singapore are modest, however, especially when set against the technology’s potential to redefine the relationship between state and individual.

An open letter from hundreds of scientists published last Monday warned that, if the contact tracing data was centralized, it would allow “unprecedented surveillance of society at large.”

The tide was already running against PEPP-PT and its main backer, German tech entrepreneur Chris Boos, as collaborators pulled out, faulting its methodology and its slowness to open up its work to wider scrutiny.

“GRAVE ERRORS”

One of the members of PEPP-PT, Germany’s Fraunhofer HHI research institute, was told on Saturday that it had been taken off the project, correspondence seen by Reuters showed.

“A series of grave errors were made by PEPP-PT regarding communication that, at the end of the day, caused serious damage and led to this decision,” Fraunhofer HHI head Thomas Wiegand said in a message to colleagues.

Germany’s reversal brings it into line with a proposal by Apple and Google, who said this month they would develop new tools to support decentralized contact tracing. In Europe, France and Britain still back centralisation.

Centralized apps would not work properly on Apple’s iPhone because, for Bluetooth exchanges to happen, the device would need to be unlocked with the app running in the foreground – a drain on the battery and an inconvenience to the user.

But the iPhone will integrate with decentralized protocols such as DP-3T, which has been developed by a Swiss-led team and has been backed by Switzerland, Austria and Estonia.

Backers of DP-3T, short for Decentralised Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing, say it is still possible for users voluntarily to opt in to sharing their phone number in order to pass epidemiologically useful data – although not location – to authorities to aid contact tracing. But this would be part of an app, not of the system architecture.

DP-3T, in a statement, welcomed Germany’s change of heart. PEPP-PT did not respond to requests for comment. (Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Buffett-backed BYD to supply EV batteries to Ford – Reuters

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FILE PHOTO: Men clean a BYD electric vehicle (EV) e2 displayed during the media day for Shanghai auto show in Shanghai, China April 17, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker BYD Co Ltd (002594.SZ), (1211.HK) will supply EV batteries to U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co (F.N), a document on the website of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed on Monday.

Ford’s China venture with Changan Automobile (000625.SZ) is seeking government approval to build a plug-in hybrid model equipped with BYD’s batteries, according to the document.

This marks BYD’s first-known battery supply deal with a major global automaker.

Shenzhen-based BYD, which is backed by U.S. investor Warren Buffett, said it would supply EV components including batteries and power management devices.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker said last year it planned to launch more than 30 new or significantly redesigned models in China by the end of 2021, of which over a third will be electric vehicles.

Ford and BYD did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh, editing by Louise Heavens

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Buffett-backed BYD to supply EV batteries to Ford – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker BYD Co Ltd 002594.SZ>, 1211.HK> will supply EV batteries to U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co , a document on the website of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed on Monday.

Ford’s China venture with Changan Automobile 000625.SZ> is seeking government approval to build a plug-in hybrid model equipped with BYD’s batteries, according to the document.

This marks BYD’s first-known battery supply deal with a major global automaker.

Shenzhen-based BYD, which is backed by U.S. investor Warren Buffett, said it would supply EV components including batteries and power management devices.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker said last year it planned to launch more than 30 new or significantly redesigned models in China by the end of 2021, of which over a third will be electric vehicles.

Ford and BYD did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh, editing by Louise Heavens)

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Xiaomi to debut a new Mi Notebook model in India on June 11 – GSMArena.com news – GSMArena.com

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Xiaomi India today announced that it will be launching a brand new model of the Mi Notebook in India on June 11. The announcement will take place at 12PM IST.

The unannounced Mi Notebook model is said to be launching first in India. It is also said to be designed for the Indian market and will be sold exclusively in India.

The company website talks about a thin and light design, FHD display and nondescript claims about performance, storage and battery life. No exact specifications have been revealed so far and even the design is currently under wraps.

The new Mi Notebook model will be the first time Xiaomi has launched a notebook in the Indian market. It’s a new direction for the Chinese manufacturer, who has previously been cautious about launching higher priced products in the Indian market. However, along with the recent launch of the Mi 10, the company seems to be testing waters with releasing premium products in the Indian market. How this price and brand conscious market reacts remains to be seen but as tech enthusiasts we appreciate having more and easier access to new and different products.

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