Who gave you the coronavirus, and how many people did you give it to?


As a pandemic sweeps the globe, charting the course of the coronavirus is vital public health work. On Friday, Google and Apple announced a combined effort to facilitate contact tracing that is, the work of identifying who came in contact with an infected individual and was possibly exposed to the virus. 


As one might expect, the tech giants are taking a tech-focused approach. Their plan is twofold, and involves the introduction of a cross-platform API and a "Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform."


"Google and Apple are announcing a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security central to the design," reads the announcement.


The rollout will take place over the next several months. The first step involves official apps that people can download via the App Store or Google Play store depending on their mobile operating system. 


"First, in May, both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities," explains the release, which, notably, does not specify which apps or which public health authorities. 


This, however, is only the first step.

"Second, in the coming months, Apple and Google will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms," continues the release. "This is a more robust solution than an API and would allow more individuals to participate, if they choose to opt in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities."


It's worth emphasizing six words in the above sentence: "if they choose to opt in." This is important, because it suggests neither Apple nor Google has the intention of sweeping all of their combined users up into a currently nebulous contract-tracing dragnet. 


The pandemic, and the corresponding desire to track people's movement, has brought numerous location-tracking companies out of the woodwork. Apple and Google may be more familiar names than the likes of Unacast or Tectonix, but that doesn't necessarily make their data collection any less worthy of scrutiny. 


As the two tech behemoths work together, let's hope we all remember that. 


Resource: mashable.com

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Google and Apple team up to support coronavirus contact tracing

Who gave you the coronavirus, and how many people did you give it to?


As a pandemic sweeps the globe, charting the course of the coronavirus is vital public health work. On Friday, Google and Apple announced a combined effort to facilitate contact tracing that is, the work of identifying who came in contact with an infected individual and was possibly exposed to the virus. 


As one might expect, the tech giants are taking a tech-focused approach. Their plan is twofold, and involves the introduction of a cross-platform API and a "Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform."


"Google and Apple are announcing a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security central to the design," reads the announcement.


The rollout will take place over the next several months. The first step involves official apps that people can download via the App Store or Google Play store depending on their mobile operating system. 


"First, in May, both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities," explains the release, which, notably, does not specify which apps or which public health authorities. 


This, however, is only the first step.

"Second, in the coming months, Apple and Google will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms," continues the release. "This is a more robust solution than an API and would allow more individuals to participate, if they choose to opt in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities."


It's worth emphasizing six words in the above sentence: "if they choose to opt in." This is important, because it suggests neither Apple nor Google has the intention of sweeping all of their combined users up into a currently nebulous contract-tracing dragnet. 


The pandemic, and the corresponding desire to track people's movement, has brought numerous location-tracking companies out of the woodwork. Apple and Google may be more familiar names than the likes of Unacast or Tectonix, but that doesn't necessarily make their data collection any less worthy of scrutiny. 


As the two tech behemoths work together, let's hope we all remember that. 


Resource: mashable.com

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