Apple and Google to collaborate against COVID-19

Containing a pandemic is not a simple task. Even less so when the virus, COVID-19 in this case, is so easily transmissible. How can you even be aware if you are close to someone who is infected?

With your phone, of course.

Apple and Google are joining forces in a historic team-up to develop an unified platform for both Android and iOS to enable contact tracing, a technology that allows you to identify if you were at risk of being infected based on your location and your distance with other users. Using Bluetooth and official apps from health organizations, you will receive notifications if you were in close proximity with an infected individual for ten or more minutes.

If you are the one infected, however, you only need to enter your health status in the official health app and consent to send the details of all the people you’ve had contact with in the past 14 days. In an effort to make the process transparent, Google has explained that:

“• Explicit user consent required

• Doesn’t collect personally identifiable information or user location data

• List of people you’ve been in contact with never leaves your phone

• People who test positive are not identified to other users, Google or Apple

• Will only be used for contact tracing by public health authorities for COVID-19

pandemic management”

If you are worried that, even with the above safeguards, this system might cause privacy concerns, you would be right—it’s an unprecedented usage of private information. Ask the South Koreans if you want to know more, and with more, we mean it literally: their contact tracing system reveals name, address, residence, profession, and many other personal details of those infected.

Clearly it’s better to just #StayHome.

Read more here.