Apple will release COVID-19 tracking technology to governments weeks before previously planned

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The ACLU says contact tracing apps could carry


Apple says it will release COVID-19 contact tracing technology to governments weeks before the company had previously estimated

  • The technology will be made available to developers on April 28  
  • That date comes courtesy of Apple CEO Tim Cook
  • Its technology will support the creation of COVID-19 contact tracing apps

Apple and Google are releasing tools that will help governments and health agencies develop contact tracing apps ahead of schedule. 

The news comes from Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, who revealed in a call with European Union Commissioner Thierry Breton that technology to support contact tracing apps would be made available on April 28, which is several weeks before the companies previously promised.  

Contact tracing technology will be made available to governments earlier than previously expected according to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook (stock)

During the meeting, France’s Les Echos also reports that Breton pressed Apple to guarantee that the technology would be built with privacy in mind as well as being voluntary and transparent.

The EU says that it will only approve Google and Apple’s contact tracing technology for a limited period of time in an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Concerns over privacy mirror a strained history between tech giants like Google and the EU which have been punctuated by legal battles over antitrust behavior and consumer privacy.  

In the US, concerns over privacy and contact tracing apps have also been raised by organizations like the ACLU.

 

While the ACLU doesn’t expressly oppose apps that use data from people’s phones to trace the spread of the virus, the organization says in a recent advisory that implementation will require a greater level of consent from users – especially when it comes to how their data is shared. 

Guidance from the ACLU and EU on contact tracing comes on the heels of an initiative by Google and Apple who partnered up to provide governments and health authorities with support on developing their own contact tracing apps.

Specifically, the companies are providing governments and health agencies access to their application programming interfaces (APIs) so that they can interface with Google and Apple’s data banks to build out their own contact tracing apps.

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