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New Technology To Slow Spread Of Covid-19 Being Planned By Apple And Google


04/13/2020


New Technology To Slow Spread Of Covid-19 Being Planned By Apple And Google
A technology that will allow contact tracing of Covid-19 – the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, will be created by two of the tech giants in the world Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google. The technology will give users the option to log into other phones they have been near.
 
This is one of the few occasions that two tech giants of Silicon Valley would be accelarating the usage of apps that aims to hasten the process of testing or quarantining of the suspected people infected by the novel coronavirus more quickly. The operating systems of the two companies run almost 99 per cent of the total smartphones of the world.
 
According to experts, after the end of the lockdowns, this method of tracing will become important in managing spread of the virus.
 
This planned new technological collaboration also raises the debate currently ongoing around the world about privacy of data of users. While one group advocates a decentralized system for tracing of contacts of patients of Covid-19, there are governments in Europe and Asia who prefer following a more centralized approach even though there are technical weaknesses in such approaches and it is possible that government will know with whom people associate.
 
"With Apple and Google, you get all the public health functions you need with a decentralized and privacy-friendly app," said Michael Veale, University College London legal lecturer involved in European contact tracing system DP3T. He said that the new technology will no longer support the centralized solutions that have been proposed by governments such as those of Britain and Germany.
 
However, it will be necessary for millions of people to opt in the system for the Silicon Valley system to be effective which means that users will have to show trust in the data protection and privacy capabilities of the technology companies. Further, smooth oversight of public health systems will also be necessary for the new technology to be successful and effective.
 
In order to streamline technical differences between Apple's iPhones and Google's Android that had earlier thwarted the joint functioning of some existing contact tracing apps, both the Silicon Valley companies had begun developing the technology two weeks ago.
 
Unique Bluetooth signals will be emitted by the phones of the users under the new plan. Anonymous information about encounters can be recorded by phones within a diameter of about six feet.
 
An encrypted list of phones they came near can be opted to be sent to Apple and Google by people who test positive for the novel coronavirus. That will trigger the issuing of alerts to potential exposed users to find out more information. However before an individual can send their data to the companies, they need to be signed off by public health authorities for that individual stating that he or she had been tested positive for the virus.
 
"To their credit, Apple and Google have announced an approach that appears to mitigate the worst privacy and centralization risks," said Jennifer Granick, surveillance and cybersecurity counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.
 
 (Source:www.thestar.com)