Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2020/793

PHyCT : Privacy preserving Hybrid Contact Tracing

Mahabir Prasad Jhanwar and Sumanta Sarkar

Abstract: Ever since COVID-19 started grasping world’s geographies one by one, countries have been struggling to tackle with this emergency by stretching their healthcare infrastructure beyond the boundary. World is now also trying to find ways to “live with the virus” or coping with the “new normal”. In this effort, contact tracing is thought to be a vital tool which can quickly figure out persons that have come into vicinity of an infected person. Some countries have adopted centralized contact tracing in the perception that it is the most effective and easy solution. Centralized contact tracing has been in the centre of debate as it is a potential tool for launching mass surveillance. So objecting to this, decentralized model has been introduced which gives the control fully to the citizens. However, in decentralized model, the onus is completely on the users to act accordingly if they get a risk notification for coming in close contact with a COVID-19 positive patient. Decentralize model will fail if the large mass of users do not act accordingly after receiving the risk notification. Therefore, a balance needs to strike between the centralized and decentralized models given the socio-economic impact of this pandemic.

In this article, we take a hybrid approach and propose PHyCT that guarantees fail-safe, privacy, and security. This system acts like a decentralized one, where identities of users remain anonymous to the central authority. However, if there is a case of infection, the infected user and the central authority can together only reveal the identities of the users who have come in close contact. This feature enables to handle the situation if there are too many non-compliant users who do not report after getting infection exposure notification. Users who have not come into close contact of any infected person remain anonymous.

Category / Keywords: applications / COVID-19, contact tracing, security, privacy

Date: received 25 Jun 2020

Contact author: Mahavir Jhawar at ashoka edu in, Sumanta Sarkar1@tcs com

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Version: 20200627:185349 (All versions of this report)

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