Apple, Google ban use of location tracking in contact tracing apps

Apple and Alphabet Inc’s Google on Monday said they would ban the use of location tracking in apps that use a new contact tracing system on which the two firms are working in conjunction.

Apple and Google, whose operating systems power 99% of smart phones, said last month they would work together to create a system for notifying people who have been near others who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Here’s an illustration of how the Apple – Google coronavirus contact tracing is proposed to work:
contact tracing privacy. Apple and Google team on cross-platform COVID-19 contact tracing tool
Apple Google COVID. Apple and Google team on cross-platform COVID-19 contact tracing tool

Stephen Nellis and Paresh Dave for Reuters:

The system uses bluetooth signals from phones to detect encounters and does not use or store GPS location data.

But the developers of official coronavirus-related apps in several U.S. states told Reuters last month it was vital that they be allowed to use GPS location data in conjunction with the new contact tracing system, to track how outbreaks move and identify hotspots.

Apple and Google said they will not allow use of GPS data along with the contact tracing systems. The decision will require public health authorities who want to use GPS location data to rely on unstable workarounds to detect encounters using Bluetooth sensors.

MacDailyNews Take: The more we hear about this “system,” the more we are convinced that Apple undertook this obviously quixotic quest in order to get out ahead on digital COVID-19 contact tracing, and drag along perpetual-follower Google, before governments were able to go full throttle on their own Orwellian schemes.

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