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Apple And Google Say No To Location Tracking In Coronavirus Contact Tracing Apps

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Apple And Google Say No To Location Tracking In Coronavirus Contact Tracing Apps

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Alphabet Inc's (NASDAQ: GOOG)(NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google said they will not allow location tracking in a new contact tracing system they're developing jointly to tackle the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Reuters reported.

What Happened

"Apple and Google, whose operating systems power 99% of smart phones, said last month they would work together to create a system for notifying people who have been near others who have tested positive for COVID-19," according to Reuters.

The contact tracing technology would only be provided to public health authorities. Bluetooth will be used to carry out contact tracing, and no GPS location data would be used or stored, to protect citizen privacy and avoid profiling.

See Also: Apple Grows Smartphone Market Share Even As Overall Market Declines At Record Pace

Why It Matters

According to a joint statement, Bluetooth identifiers rotate “every 10-20 minutes, to help prevent tracking."

"Each user will have to make an explicit choice to turn on the technology," the companies said. "It can also be turned off by the user at any time.”

As Bluetooth is turned off automatically to conserve battery, some COVID-19 encounters may be missed.

Apple and Google have both said only one app per country will be allowed to use the contact tracing system, in order to avoid fragmentation and encourage wider adoption. National subunits such as states will be supported.

Privacy experts warn that leakage from a location data cache could lead to the ostracisation of businesses and individuals.

 

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