Apple, Google team up to build coronavirus contact-tracing system on phones

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Apple and Google said their technology would first be made available to the developers of third-party contact tracing apps by mid-May, before being rolled out directly into Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems, making separate apps unecessary. That identifier will then be anonymously exchanged with anyone the user comes into contact with who also has the service enabled.

Authorities around the world have identified contact tracing as one of the key solutions to stop the rapid spread of the coronavirus, with several governments around the world, including Israel, Thailand and Hong Kong, using technology to track exposure and enforce quarantines. This might make it possible for the applications to alarm customers once they have ever been close to some COVID-19 particular person and none from a really lengthy distance, which could simply trigger extra confusion.

Meanwhile, The Guardian also reported that technology companies are being given access to confidential United Kingdom patient information by the government as part of its response to the pandemic.

The app will allow people that have self-diagnosed shaving the coronavirus will be able to declare that status in the app, which will then send an alert to anyone that has recently been in contact with them for an extended period of time.

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Contact-tracing apps have been much-advocated in recent weeks, on the basis they could prove a vital to governments wanting to emerge from lockdown conditions which now restricting the activities and movements of millions.

Ashkan Soltani, former Federal Trade Commission chief technology officer in the Obama administration, said the new venture raises privacy concerns and is likely to produce false positives and false negatives.

The BBC reports the NHS had not been aware of Google and Apple's joint project, but will now integrate it into its app software. But in the US and the Western world, there isn't a widely-used tracking tool, mostly due to privacy concerns. The contact-tracing system will register the phones in its vicinity in a log. And the data collected is not going to be "personally identifiable information", which includes someone's specific location.

"Privacy, transparency and consent are of utmost importance in this effort and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders", the companies stated. We will openly publish information about our work for others to analyze.

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