Tech Giants Tout Privacy for Coronavirus Contact Tracing Apps

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In Brief
  • Google and Apple are collaborating to develop a new system to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

  • User privacy is a top priority, which is why data collecting must be minimal.

  • Only government health organizations can use the new system, and even they cannot track users' locations.

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The Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations building standards of transparency.

A new coronavirus tracking system designed by Google and Apple is approaching launch. The two tech giants published a very important rule — there can be no location tracking of users.

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Google and Apple recently revealed that their technology, designed for tracing coronavirus, will not allow location tracking. [Reuters] The two companies even agreed to work together in order to ensure customer privacy.

No location tracking allowed

Their new technology will revolve around a system that would warn users if they are in proximity to individuals who tested positive for COVID-19. The new announcement might create complications, given that many apps planned to integrate the new system. The two firms already revealed plans to allow health authorities to use the new technology.

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However, they do not want to provide the governments of the world with tools for tracking their citizens. They also do not want to assist governments in collecting user data.

The system is there to help users stay safe and notify those who tested positive. Achieving this while keeping citizens’ privacy safe is the primary goal.

Experts believe that the system will become a crucial tool in weeks and months to come, as society returns to normal following the pandemic. Of course, the return to normal will mostly depend on how people continue to treat social distancing. But new technologies can help in that regard significantly. This is why many were excited by the Google/Apple collaboration.

How will the system work?

From what is known, the system would rely on Bluetooth signals. It will use the signals to determine if the user is close to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Not only that, but the system is expected to arrive rather soon, by mid-May.

The early version is already being tested right now. However, the companies insist on banning location sharing completely. Another rule is that only government health authorities will be allowed to create apps. Also, all apps need to get users’ consent before they start utilizing the Exposure Notification API.

Those using the apps will also require another, separate consent before sharing positive COVID-19 results with public health authorities. Lastly, data collecting must be at a minimum to secure user privacy.

Disclaimer

All the information contained on our website is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Any action the reader takes upon the information found on our website is strictly at their own risk.
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Ali is a freelance journalist, having 7 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications. Ali holds a master degree in finance and enjoys writing about cryptocurrencies and fintech. Ali's work has been published on a number of well-known publications in crypto and cybersecurity niches. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.

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