The Dutch government temporarily closed the coronavirus alert app on Thursday due to privacy concerns from users who downloaded it to Android smartphones.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge announced late Wednesday that the CoronaMelder app would no longer display warnings for two days until the government verified that consumer data was secure.
The Dutch app uses exposure notification technology, developed by IT giants Google and Apple, to generate random codes that can be exchanged between phones if their hosts have been together long enough for the virus to spread.
According to the Ministry of Health, other Android applications may have received information about the user’s potential infection status and interactions with other phones.
“Consumer privacy is always a priority. While Google needs to address this issue, I can limit the consequences. That is why we made this decision,” de Jonge said in a statement.
Google informed the government on Wednesday that the problem had been resolved, according to a ministry under its leadership. The Dutch government, for its part, froze app notifications for two days to make sure the data breach was stopped.
In an emailed statement to the AP, Google noted that “a fix is being released for an issue where random Bluetooth IDs used by Android’s contact notification system were temporarily available for some pre-installed apps.”
The information technology giant said the update was released a few weeks ago and should “be available to all Android users in the next few days.”
According to Google, random Bluetooth identifiers “have no practical value to criminals per se, and it is highly unlikely that developers of pre-installed devices were aware of the inadvertent availability of those identifiers.”
The company stated that it found no indication that the data collected by the various anti-COVID-19 devices had been incorrectly reviewed.