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The joint article called "WeTrace: A Privacy-preserving Tracing Approach" prepared by the CSG@IfI and the Papers AG was published as an open-access article in the Special Issue "Communications and Networking Approaches for Combating COVID-19" of the Journal of Communications and Networks (JCN). This publication results from academia and industry collaborations that started to address an issue raised during the COVID-19 pandemic: the contact tracing of infected people.
WeTrace specifies a Bluetooth Low Energy (BTE)-based approach to preserve the user's identity fully and, thus, the privacy of the person and their medical status data, while also allowing for a fully anonymous reporting between users, who had been in close contact for a certain period, such that his/her medical status update can be interpreted correctly and reliably. It is suggested to embed WeTrace in one of the existing applications already proposed and partially being open source, such that this major requirement of a user's privacy and their data privacy can be guaranteed.
The paper briefly surveys related work, defines the key and major soft requirements needed for an app, and specifies the relevant stakeholders. Based on those steps, the WeTrace Architecture is defined, and the technical implementation of the open-source project is described. Security and attack models and privacy enforcement are discussed, and mitigation measures are proposed. Finally, significant observations are provided, combined with an analysis and evaluation of the current, privacy-protected state of the open-source application developed.