Authorities in 23 countries across five continents have sought access to contact tracing technology from Apple and perpetual follower Google, the companies announced on Wednesday as they released the initial version of their “exposure notification” system.
Authorities would have to stop requiring phone numbers from users under the companies’ rules, one of several restrictions that have left governments fighting the novel coronavirus frustrated that the world’s top two smartphone software makers undercut the technology’s usefulness by prioritizing user privacy.
MacDailyNews Take: Fools.
Apple and Google said several U.S. states and 22 countries have sought access to their technology, but it is unclear how many will end up publishing mobile apps that use it.
Some governments contend their app-based efforts would be more effective if they could track users’ locations to identify hot spots for virus transmission and notify them about possible exposure through calls or texts, rather than a generic push notification.
Apple and Google have barred authorities using their technology from collecting GPS location data or requiring users to enter personal data.
Australia, the United Kingdom and other countries that have sought to develop their own technology are experiencing glitches, draining device batteries and seeing limited adoption.
Developers of contact tracing apps for Austria, Germany and Switzerland told Reuters this week they were moving forward with the Apple-Google technology and were fine not knowing users’ phone numbers.
MacDailyNews Take: Give ’em an inch and they’ll take several light years. So, no inch for you!
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin
No location data is truly anonymized. It can be cross-matched with other publicly-available data to identify and track individuals. The idea of any government requiring cellphone tracking to monitor its citizens’ movements, regardless of the reason, is chilling. — MacDailyNews, April 2, 2020
Regardless of the extent of Bluetooth access, no matter how well-designed the Apple-Google contact tracing system is on paper, in practice too few people will install and use it. These apps are designed to provide a digital security blanket to help increase confidence for going back to work more than anything else.
Might these apps help in some cases to get the relatively few people who will use them to seek testing or self-quarantine if/when the alarm goes off? Of course. But, overall, these apps are little more than security blankets for the citizenry to clutch on their way to herd immunity and, for governments that use a centralized system, to track the spread of infections on the way to herd immunity.
How to opt out of COVID-19 contact tracing in iOS 13.5
1. Open the Settings app.
2. Scroll down and tap on Privacy.
3. Tap on Health.
4. Tap on COVID-19 Exposure Logging.
5. Tap the toggle to turn the feature off.
COVID-19 Exposure Logging is set to “Off” by default.