Google And Apple Won't Allow The Governments To Mandate Users To Use The COVID-19 Tracker, It Will Remain 'Opt-In' Only

Google and Apple announced the launch of ‘contract-tracing’ technology generated to track the coronavirus spread among the masses.

Google and Apple announced that the governments will not be allowed to mandate the people to use this technology to protect the privacy of their users and only public health organizations will be able to build the corresponding apps.

How this technology will work

The two tech companies plan to launch this tracker in two phases, an API will be used by third-party apps to use the technology in the first phase and an OS-level update will be rolled out in the second phase but it will remain opt-in at the system level too. Which makes the case that users can use the tracker voluntarily. 

Google and Apple have partnered to create a tool that will help users to determine whether a person has come in contact with a coronavirus infected patient or not. The companies announced the launch of contract-tracing technology last week.

The companies had a call with the reporters in which they clarified that they will not allow the governments to forcefully make people use this technology and the tool will strictly remain opt-in for the users. Representatives of both the companies stated that the only public health organizations will be able to construct the corresponding apps using their latest technology to trace the spread of the coronavirus. These apps generated by these public health organizations and authorities will then be managed and supervised by the corresponding app stores of Google and Apple.

Spokespeople for Google and Apple also stated that the companies will only provide access to the APIs to organizations that are legally allowed by the governments to practice in public health sector for creating the corresponding apps. The companies will keep the maximum of the information on the smartphone of the user although a server will exchange signals to send and receive notifications to the infected person.

The contract-tracing technology generated by Google and Apple uses the smartphone’s Bluetooth signals of the user to exchange signals from people close-by. If a person has entered in the app anonymously that he/she was infected by the virus and tested positive for COVID-19, the app will send an alert to the persons who came adjacent to the infected person that they may be at risk based on the time spent and distance from the infected person.

The companies said that they plan to launch the first phase of this tracing app by mid of the next month, May. In the first phase of this app, an API will be used by third-party apps to use the tracing technology for both Android and iOS operating systems. Then the companies will launch an OS-level update of this tech app in the second phase which will eliminate the need to download a separate app on a phone for contact tracing.

The companies ensured the users that the technology will remain opt-in for the users even in the OS-level update. If a person is infected by the coronavirus or someone receives an alert that they may have come in contact with an infected patient, they would still require to download a public health app on their smartphone to send and receive further instructions.

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