Security and privacy experts are warning that Apple and Google’s Wuhan coronavirus tracing technology could be abused and must be closely monitored.
Breitbart News recently reported that for the past month, Apple and Google have been working together on a new smartphone-based system for notifying people if they have been in contact with someone that tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.
While other agencies and countries have begun working on their own technologies to track those that have been in contact with coronavirus victims, Apple and Google stated that they wanted to create a system that would offer the maximum public health benefit while continuing to protect individual privacy.
Apple and Google allege that unlike other systems, theirs will not collect location information or identifying information about those that test positive for the coronavirus. They also require that a person consent to the data that the companies do collect on them. The companies claim that health authorities will be able to include a way to verify that someone tested positive such as a QR code from a health care provider, addressing concerns that people could falsely claim that they tested positive.
Now, MarketWatch reports that privacy experts are warning that this tracing tech could be an invasion of user privacy. Klon Kitchen, a technology analyst at the Heritage Foundation, told MarketWatch: “All of this could be abused. But information that could be used is already being collected.” But he added, “They have a vested interest in getting the economy up and running, and getting their engineers back in the building, and the government lacks the ability to do this.”
Josephine Wolff, a cybersecurity policy professor at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, commented on the tech stating: “The bigger concern is: What if other entities can access?” But Wolff seems reassured that the firms will keep any identifiable information out o the hands of third parties due to the 15 minute refresh time on the identifier on Apple and Google devices. “You might worry about someone creating a map of where you have been, but with an identifier that changes every 15 minutes it would be so much harder to trace to an individual person,” said Wolff.
Wolff added: “The truth about Google and Apple is they have so much information about us already.” Even New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who has praised Apple and Google’s efforts, noted that there are privacy concerns relating to the tech. “Apple and other companies are working on using technology to do tracking. How do we do that and how do we do it fast?” Cuomo said before acknowledging the privacy issue stating: “Do you really want that cell phone in your pocket to be a tracking device?”
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org