Google and Apple launch COVID-19 tracing app
However, the new application – which uses Bluetooth to track users locations and see who they may have come in contact with – has privacy advocates up in arms.
The work public health officials are doing around the world humbles us all," the two companies said in a statement.
"Google and Apple are clear that this is not a panacea but we do believe Exposure Notifications can make a contribution to the broader work of contact tracing," the tech firms said.
The apps work similar to the UAE’s ALHOSN application – which will give users notifications if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Both firms have also released the underlying API (the technology that powers their applications) to health authorities to use, letting them create their own platforms. The tech is completely free, and will see regular software updates.
While countries such as Italy and Germany have leaned towards Apple and Google’s platform, other countries like France and the UK are currently developing their own systems. So far, more than 22 countries have signed up to the joint application.
But privacy advocates are not happy with the new applications, which does record some personal data.
Google and Apple have said that while the new platform does gather data about who you have been in contact with, it does not gather geolocation data and cannot be used for commercial purposes.
The app also works independently of any government oversight – it is up to the individual user to notify health authorities if they have been infected. And once the coronavirus pandemic has passed, the application and its technology will be taken down and all data deleted.
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