Apple and Google look to rebrand ‘contact tracing’ as ‘exposure notification’

Apple and Google, working together on a COVID-19 contact tracing system — which has been criticized by privacy advocates, lawmakers, and others, including yours truly, for various reasons – are now rebranding their tools as “exposure notification.”

Richard Nieva for CNET:

rebrand contact tracingApple and Google have been met with scrutiny and pushback over the privacy implications of such a system. Critics worry about the possibility of abuse or spying.

To assuage those fears, the two companies on Friday outlined a series of technical tweaks to better uphold privacy, but the most important change may’ve been something far simpler: Saying the tools are for “exposure notification” instead of “contact tracing.”

Apple and Google told reporters on a joint conference call that the new terminology is simply a more accurate description of the project. The shift is in a sense a rebranding effort, but it’s more than cosmetic. Ditching a term like “tracing,” which could have ominous connotations of surveillance, may go a long way in getting consumers to use the tools…

Google is often criticized for its business model, which relies on user data collected through its search engine, maps and other services to let advertisers target specific audiences with their messages. The search giant has also been accused of being less than forthright with its location data permissions, collecting the information when people thought they’d turned the setting off. Apple has a much sturdier reputation on privacy…

MacDailyNews Take: You rebrand things you can’t sell and that don’t/won’t work as advertised.

Contact tracing Exposure notification apps are nothing more than pablum for the masses: “Want to feel safe while getting back to work, shopping, going out to eat, vacationing, etc.? There’s an app for that.”

As we just wrote earlier this morning, Apple and Google are very likely taking the lead on this thing because they want to be out front of myriad privacy issues, not letting governments that are proven to overreach and which love centralized programs dictate the direction of contact tracing.

Even in Singapore, where citizens follow the rules, their COVID-19 contact tracing app has been installed by just 12% of the population). That’s at least 48% short of the lowest threshold for “digital herd immunity.”

No matter how well-designed the system is on paper, in practice too few people will install and use it*, while reliance on Bluetooth connectivity (range, materials penetrance, public transport, etc.) will result in myriad false positive issues.

This seems like something designed to provide a digital security blanket to help increase confidence for going back to work more than anything else.

*In the U.S., beyond the obvious constitutional rights issues, 18% of the U.S. population, or nearly 1-in-5 people, do not even have a smartphone. So, with one of every 5th person roaming about by default, not to mention all of the opt-outs, contact tracing via iOS and Android smartphones would be more of a feel-good security blanket than a useful, working system.

More about the myriad issues of Bluetooth COVID-19 contact tracing apps can be found in our Takes here and here.


  1. Ah, yes the old “it’s for your own good” thing.

    As if I can’t check myself every 5 minutes if I want. 71 years old, but my current forehead temp is 94.2 degrees, back of the mouth 96.3, pulse ox is 97%, and resting pulse rate is 58.

    Going to go out and get some sun. Might even talk to someone on the walk (ok 6 feet away of course)

  2. I think you are missing the point. This is not an app to determine that you are safe. It is not even an app to determine if you have been exposed. It is an app to notify users that they might have been exposed and should be tested. It is a way of prioritizing who should be tested.

    If you live someplace with adequate medical resources, you can get testing when you need it, and the public health system can employ traditional contact tracing for those who test positive to find, test, and isolate as needed.

    The app is a supplement to the traditional methods for combating infectious disease that have been used since the late 1800s: diagnosis, isolation, and contact tracing. It was never intended as a substitute.

    1. I think you are missing the point.

      The few people who actually download and use the app are all going to be told they might be infected due to the inherent issues with Bluetooth and, because a small percentage of people will actually use the app, it won’t tell you when you’ve maybe come in contact with the vast majority of people with COVID-19.

      In short, the app is not going to work as advertised. It’s a pacifier. Download the app and it’ll eventually tell you to get tested. Perhaps several times per day. You don’t even need a working system for that. Just make an app with a timer that says “Get Tested!” after 10 minutes in use.

  3. The US government, congress and state officials have failed America. Some much dysfunction because of our 2 political parties that can not and will not rise above petty fighting. And this ridiculous excuse for a president who advocated killing his own citizens with the most stupid and dangerous advice to poison yourself. This country cannot survive.

    1. Last week, William Bryant a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security outlined some research his agency had done indicating that the Wuhan Virus was very susceptible to direct sunlight, heat and high humidity, all of which President Trump had mentioned weeks ago to loud media derision and flat out nasty commentary from the left.

      The President then mentioned, in his “think out loud” manner, that perhaps the experts could look into the use of Ultra Violet light inside the body or trying to disinfect the body from the inside by finding some substance that might do that. Note: At no time did President Trump recommend or even suggest, using disinfectants such as Lysol injected into the body. He was describing a concept. He was actually, for all of the folks out there who like to screech “SCIENCE!” at the top of their lungs, executing the very first step in any scientific inquiry — asking the question, “What if?”

      Hello, have you ever heard of chemotherapy, where we poison the patient in hopes that the poison will kill cancer before it kills the patient? Also, one of the available treatments for cancer is Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation Therapy. Ultraviolet light has long been understood to be a disinfectant that destroys nucleic acids and disrupts DNA. The sun’s ultraviolet light is why it’s one of the most effective ways to destroy the COVID-19 virus when it’s on objects or aerosolized. The question is whether that same ultraviolet energy can be used inside the human body.

      But, beyond that, there is actually a medical procedure that uses hydrogen peroxide in an intravenous technique to kill internal bacteria and viruses.

      In IV H2O2 therapy, Hydrogen peroxide is infused into the circulatory system through a vein in the arm. It drips in over a ninety-minute period. Five cc of pharmaceutical-grade, three-percent hydrogen peroxide are put in 500 cc five percent glucose in water as a carrier solution. Two grams of magnesium chloride are added along with a small amount of manganese to prevent vein sclerosis.

      In the blood, it encounters two enzymes: catalase and cytochrome-C. Catalase drives the above reaction to completion immediately. That part of the hydrogen peroxide that binds with cytochrome-C, however, is not allowed to become water and singlet oxygen for a period of forty minutes. After forty minutes of being bound to cytochrome-C this enzyme begins to act like catalase and breaks down the hydrogen peroxide to water and singlet oxygen. By this time, the hydrogen peroxide/cytochrome-C complex has been spread throughout the body. In this way the benefits of hydrogen peroxide are made available to all cells.

      The effect of singlet oxygen in the human body is twofold. It kills, or severely inhibits the growth of, anaerobic organisms (bacteria and viruses that use carbon dioxide for fuel and leave oxygen as a by-product). This action is immediate, on contact with the anaerobic organism. Anaerobic bacteria are pathogens, the organisms which cause disease. All viruses are anaerobic.

      More info:

      1. You are reporting quack medicine and are defending a not-even-a–quack President*
        Easy stuff first… a National Briefing is not the place to “think out loud”, especially when you have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s a place where you shut up and let those who know what they’re talking about to speak.

        If you don’t want to be contradicted, you moron, STFU! They are not there to assuage your ego.

        Fortunately the hydrogen peroxide solution is very dilute, because hydrogen peroxide fizzes on contact with catalase. Singlet oxygen not only kills anaerobic bacteria, it kills healthy cells too. It oxidizes lipids, it hardens blood vessels, it accelerates intrinsic aging.

      2. Try it now and let us know how it works? Hopefully it won’t and we won’t have to put up with your propaganda.

      3. Fake News is gonna Fake News, Trump is faced with a diabolical force in the mass media and he’s still keeping his poise, cutting through red tape and leading the nation in these troubled times. Thank God that he is in charge and not one of these control freak creeps like little Tony Fauci who would love to keep everyone under lock and key indefinitely.

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