5

Has anybody had a closer look into this module what it really does? I want to know if the functionality will work if bluetooth is turned off. I guess a surefire method to test this would be to remove the SIM, disable all antennas and measure EM radiation (though I'm not sure if there's still cell tower communication with the SIM removed).

Even if the answer above is no: I don't want this software on my Phone.

  • Is it possible to modify Google Play Services (GPS), remove contact tracing, and use GPS as usual after? This seems the best option but an update might then again overwrite it.
  • Root and remove GPS. I have a OnePlus 7. Will everything keep working well except the Google apps of course?
  • LineageOS maybe but I like OxygenOS a lot..
  • Other options?

Much would be cleared up if we can see the code. Is this possible?

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    For more information: Exposure Notifications: Using technology to help public health authorities fight COVID‑19 (comment edited to remove incorrect info about LineageOS with Google Play Service) – Andrew T. Jun 1 at 19:08
  • sorry but you are using a GOOGLE product and you have accepted policies if you are paranoid you should not use any smartphone at all. CCC has little information – alecxs Jun 1 at 21:02
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    @alecxs i did not accept contact tracing as far as I know. – progonkpa Jun 1 at 22:24
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    you have accepted policies on initial setup. google can do everything. its like facebook own all rights on everything you sent with whatsapp. btw you know you can't use google maps without google play services? google was always tracing phones – alecxs Jun 1 at 22:54
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    As @alecxs mentioned in his answer, contacts tracing through new Covid API is not the only thing you should be worried about. If you have been using a phone with GMS for a few months, Google definitely knows more about you than you do. The only working solution is to not use any of the Google products at all. But it's not only Google, do not use Facebook and many other apps which track your IDs and analyze your data for personal profiling and targeted advertisement etc. Selling your data to third parties is also not beyond question, and not even uncommon, I'd say. – Irfan Latif Jul 24 at 8:10
4

The Covid contact tracing in Google Play Services is an API. And according to he documentation this API is working opt-in. By default your device will not track anything. Also note that "contact" in this context means "a cryptographically random token generated by a different device that was within Bluetooth range at a certain time". No contact data like name is transmitted.

For "activating" this interface you need at least one of the Google certified Covid 19 tracing apps (there can be only one app per country and only public health agency is allowed to publish one).

And in such an app Google enforces that the user has a switch for enabling and disabling the tracking system.

However if you still not trust Play Services with integrated Covid tracking API you should switch to a Custom ROM + OpenGApps. Every device I have tested that uses this combination does not provide the COVID contact tracing API, even if the very latest version of Google Play Services is installed. Hence it seems like the tracing API is generally disabled for Custom ROMS using OpenGApps. It is still unclear why on some devices with CustomROM and OpenGApps the COVID tracking API is available and on other devices this option does not show up even with latest OpenGApps installed.

You can verify on your own if your PlayService support Covid 19 tracking:

Open Settings -> Google If the first entry in the services list shows you something about "Notifications on encountered Covid 19 infections" than the API is ready to use. If not then every Covid tracking app that wants to use this API will not work (the app will just show the error code 39501).

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  • Do you know if a useful test would be to install a COVID app and see if it reports errors? – Paul Jun 2 at 18:27
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    An API doesn't tell us what it actually does. It only tells us which functionality is public. In other words, one could toggle off tracking and think: I'm all good now. But who's to say code is not running autonomically in the background, activating your bluetooth without showing it and report back home as soon as there's an internet connection, or even via a green card cell tower channel? I know this is out there. Then again, many things happening today are too. – progonkpa Jun 2 at 18:33
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    I just checked my Galaxy S5 and my SM-T713 and both have LOS 16 dated 4/19 with OpenGApps and I have the "COVID-19 Exposure Notifications" listed at the top of Settings -> Google services. – Paul Jun 2 at 18:34
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    @Robert In normal circumstances I'd agree with you. Now, they'll get green light from governments because of 'the common good'. They attacked our Constitutional rights globally, tracking is the next lock step. Tracking is voluntary atm, though the installation was not. I deem it extremely likely that tracking won't be voluntary soon. That is if all people keep going along with this bs narrative. – progonkpa Jun 3 at 9:47
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    @progonkpa Tracking on Android was always possible even without the new tracking API. You can simply use Bluetooth to send whatever you like. Hence technically it does not make much difference. France for example has released their apps that do not (and will never) use the Google API because they want a centralized system. – Robert Jun 3 at 11:35
1

Contact tracing is not the only way a user can be tracked and mass-scale user tracking has been in motion for a long time. Some examples:

One mitigating measure against Google Play Services' tracking is to root your device and use app like cn.wq.disableservice. With this you can have control over GMS and block single actions, like prevent GMS from updating itself. It's painful to understand all the things but it should be technically possible to block data transfers.

disable-service

This however would not be sufficient. You are already being profile/tracked when you are using:

  • proprietary software or services (such as Android OS as shipped by an OEM);

  • various services such as cloud syncing of personal/private data;

  • real-time text to speech translation -- your audio could be getting saved onto the cloud. You can see some of that data collected by Google here;
  • maps with real-time live traffic data.

Some services/software, such as Google Play Store, even force this tracking by requiring the user to sign in to use the product. Furthermore, a staggering number of Android apps use some sort of analytics such as Firebase.

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  • credits: @IrfanLatif + Firelord – alecxs Jul 24 at 1:18
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    Apps can enable/disable their components at any time. Unfortunately disabling app components doesn't work with many of Google apps. – Irfan Latif Jul 24 at 8:04

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