Singapore hands out pocket-sized coronavirus contact-tracing devices

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore began handing out pocket-sized coronavirus contact-tracing devices to residents on Monday, part of a planned nationwide rollout to help the city-state safely reopen its economy. Like an earlier smartphone app released by the government, the box-shaped tokens use Bluetooth signals to record nearby devices and store encrypted data of a users’ close contacts. Authorities say the contact-tracing app has been downloaded by about 40% of residents, although it has encountered problems, especially on Apple devices where its operating system suspends Bluetooth scanning when the app runs in the background. Similar apps in places including Israel and South Korea have raised privacy concerns, but Singapore has said its contact-tracing token will store data locally for no more than 25 days and that it does not have internet or cellular connectivity. Singapore has not made the app or token mandatory but has urged residents to use them when they are outside their homes.

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