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  • Britain's NHS rejects the Apple & Google COVID-19 exposure notification technology

    larryjw said:
    PS: If you want privacy, don't use cell phones. Bluetooth is perfect for tracking. 

    A couple years ago, bluetooth sensors were installed allow transportation corridors to track vehicle traffic, reading signals from Bluetooth devices, so transportation planners could "see" traffic patterns, where people entered the corridor, where they exited the corridor, average speeds, etc. 

    There are certainly ways to do that: iBeacon APIs let an installed App with Bluetooth access register the “family” of beacons to listen out for, and then when they are heard some app code gets run to do something. Typical, of the third party beacon APIs, is to do a network connection and look up data (which can pass on info like the beacon details but also - if it has permission - where you are, trigger a local notification, that sort of thing). Some of those third party beacon APIs were also listening out for their own beacon families, and frankly it was all a bit of a mess.

    I can see how an app developer working on this NHSX project might want to, in the background, emulate a beacon but also listen out for others (I’m not sure if you can do *that* without background execution, and for that if you’re not one of the valid AppStore use cases you would indeed need a dispensation). A smart designer would also, as the Apple/Google design does, realise that you need to change your Transmitted beacon ID regularly, because otherwise someone else (those pesky business football companies) will start listening too.

    Here in London we had advertising companies installing Wi-Fi base stations on rubbish bins, just to listen out for phones as they passed by and collect their MAC addresses. So Apple and Google started using random MAC addresses when probing for Wi-Fi networks that they knew. 

    So the advertisers upped their game offering free Wi-Fi hotspots. Why? Because if you connected to their network and left it as auto-join then your phone would connect as you passed and disclose its real MAC address. 

    Indeed, the London Underground (to come back to the transportation subject that I’m replying to), who legitimately and usefully provide Wi-Fi on sub-surface stations, use this to then track phones as they move through the station tunnels and platforms, to model passenger movement. 

    Mine’s the phone with auto-join disabled on public Wi-Fi networks,
  • Apple yanks watchOS 3.1.1 update following user complaints

    twa440 said:
    I can't recall any products being bricked when Steve was around but, maybe so. I know I've never seen six updates in two years that caused products to be bricked.
    There was one early update to OS X 10.0 that deleted the entire hard drive of anyone who'd named it with a leading space (a common "trick", back in the day). That wasn't exactly bricking (you could boot off CD) but it didn't do much for your data.