Google, Apple, release joint coronavirus tracking technology

  • Google, Apple, release joint coronavirus tracking technology

Google, Apple, release joint coronavirus tracking technology

They also said iPhones and Android phones that have downloaded contact tracing apps can not easily detect each other without the API. But they said their automatic exposure notification system can augment that process and slow the spread of COVID-19 by virus carriers who are interacting with strangers and aren't yet showing symptoms. The API prohibits access to location data over privacy-related concerns.

To be clear, the API is not an app itself but merely a contact tracing tool. The system uses a combination of techniques to maximise users' privacy. That being said, Apple and Google have a couple of times reminded that whether or not to activate this feature remains at the sole discretion of the user. But there's a larger, more immediate issue.

The technology is now available to developers to create apps, which the companies say is already beginning in 22 countries and several USA states. In addition, all metadata associated with Bluetooth is also encrypted which makes it even more hard to identify someone based on the transmitting power from a particular phone model.

The companies have announced that their Exposure Notification API - the first phase of the project - is ready to be used by public health agencies (PHAs).

On one level, that's smart.

"User adoption is key to success, and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage use of these apps", Apple and Google said in a statement.

A spokesperson from the companies also stated that the API could help different contact tracing apps and systems work across regional and state borders. Initially, people will have to download an app backed by a public health agency. Google and Apple both say you will need to opt-in to the tracing system and no one can track you without your consent.

Apple and Google have released a software tool that will make it possible for nations to release coronavirus contact-tracing apps that adopt the firms' privacy-centric model.

The Government will no doubt be looking to try and find a balance so that it can improve the technology of the app while being able to maintain control of contact tracing. "Large proportions of the population are convinced that either "Big Tech" or "Big Government" is out to steal their data or spy on them". It should not gather geo-location data and not be used for commercial purposes. Other health agencies in other locations will get access in the coming weeks.

Apple already likes to tell the stories of people whose lives were saved by the health features in their Apple Watch; it needs to tell similar stories about contact tracing. The technology lets people know automatically if they have been exposed to the coronavirus. However, it was emphasized that Apple and Google are not creating contact-tracing or exposure-notification apps. "Apple and other companies are working on using technology to do tracking". They should not just enable it, but own it.