Apple-Google Technology to Remain Opt-in Only – Governments Cannot Force People to Use it

Citizens can’t be forced to use the technology created by Apple and Google for tracing the spread of the COVID-19 disease, a senior representative at the company said on 13th April 2020.

Apple and Google usually the tech-rivals announced on 10th April 2020 that they have teamed up to create a technology that enables public health corporations to build contact tracing apps. The partnership between these two tech giants is being closely watched as these giants cover almost 100% of the smartphone technology today; Android and iOS.

Contact tracing is used to find the people who might have been infected with the novel coronavirus. This tracing will be used either to create awareness about the self-isolation or to contact them in case they need medical support. Contact tracing has been suggested by experts who have experienced the success of ‘syndromic surveillance’ in tracking and slowing down the spread. In many countries, governments are using contact tracing apps to help businesses and schools to re-open after the lockdowns.

In March, Singapore launched a contact tracing app called TraceTogether. Many French ministries and England’s National Health Service are working on their own apps.

The fact that the apps prove useful when many people use them has raised fears that governments might force people to use them. But reps from both companies insisted that this won’t be a mandatory technology.

Possibly in May, Apple and Google are preparing to update their smartphone OS with new APIs i.e. application programming interfaces. Notable health agencies would then use these APIs to develop digital contact tracing apps with development support from Apple and Google.

The way it is envisioned, when someone with coronavirus gets in public, local health agencies will verify the test and use these apps to inform anybody who may have been in 10 to 15 feet contact with such person. Rest assured, the identity of the person with COVID-19 won’t be revealed to Apple or Google or to other users. The identity could be tracked by Government or authorized agencies. Only public health authorities are getting access to these APIs, Apple and Google said.

The more people in the areas download the app, the more effective it’s going to be while identifying people who may have been infected. To make it a success, public health officials and companies need to persuade people with people’s personal data which is entered while opting-in. If someone wants to stop the participation, they can tell the app to stop tracking them and simply uninstall it.


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