Apple and Google Promise to Ban Location Tracking in Apps Using ‘Contact Tracing’ Tech

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REUTERS/DARREN STAPLES

Apple and Google have reportedly claimed that they will ban the use of location tracking in apps using the new contact tracing system being developed by the two tech giants that they say will help slow the spread of the Chinese virus.

Reuters reports that tech giants Apple and Google have promised to ban location tracking features in apps that take advantage of the new Wuhan coronavirus contact tracing system being developed together by the two Silicon Valley giants.

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 hospital, addressing concerns that people could falsely claim that they tested positive.

Google and Apple have both reportedly made changes to their mobile operating systems to allow the devices to exchange a private key with nearby smartphones via  Bluetooth, logging when users come into close proximity. If an individual tests positive for the Wuhan coronavirus and enters that information into an app, 14 days’ worth of their contact with other users is sent to a server.

The phones regularly check if any recently encountered individuals have been reported as infected and alerts users with a notification. The notification states that someone they have been in contact with has tested positive and provides them with more information. This system is running on mobile devices running iOS 13 or on any version of the Android operating system from 2015 on.

Software firm Twenty which developed the state of Utah’s Healthy Together contact tracing app which uses both GPS tracking and Bluetooth said on Monday that the app “operates effectively” without needing to rely on Apple and Google’s new system.

“If their approach can be more effective than our current solution, we’ll eagerly incorporate their features into our existing application, provided it meets the specifications of current and prospective public health partners,” Twenty said.

The province of Alberta in Canada, which does not collect GPS data, stated that it has no plans to adopt Apple and google’s system for its ABTraceTogether App.

9to5Mac previously reported that Apple and Google are now using the term “Exposure Notification” to describe their system instead of “Contact Tracing” in an attempt to emphasize the benefit of the system and make it sound less like a surveillance system.

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 lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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