Apple and Google Launch Exposure Notification API, Enabling Public Health Authorities To Release Apps

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Apple and Google have made available the Exposure Notification API to the health authorities to over 23 countries. Both the company has announced today on the initial release of the contact tracing technology.

However, the tech giants have laid some privacy regulations on their API that restricts authorities requiring phone numbers from users. These restrictions 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.

Apple and Google said several US 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.

Well, during this hard time, most of the authorities are relying on apps to accelerate contact tracing, in which authorities identify and test people who were recently near a virus carrier. It could help authorities test more potentially infected individuals than they would normally be able to based on patients recalling recent interactions from memory.

However, 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 generic push notification.

Apple and Google have barred authorities using their technology from collecting GPS location data or requiring users to enter personal data.

“We have a collision of tech, privacy and health professionals and the Venn diagram doesn’t really have a spot where they all overlap,” said Chester Wisniewski, a principal research scientist at cybersecurity company Sophos.

Apple and Google have said their system will more reliably use Bluetooth connections between devices to log users who are in physical proximity for at least five minutes.

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.

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