Apple-Google Contact Tracing System ‘Amazing’ but Poses ‘Constitutional Problems’

Joanna Estrada
April 16, 2020

Deloitte's Mobile Consumer Survey 2019 revealed that 91% of Aussies have access to a smartphone device.

Google and Apple say that their cross-platform tracing system will be rolled out in two phases. According to a researcher as well as co-founder of the volunteer group known as the Covid Watch, some experts already suggest that 60% adoption could actually help this pandemic ease down. Although the number of new cases is less as compared to several other nations, growing cases of coronavirus is a big reason for worry. When a person is confirmed with an infectious disease, it becomes important to identify who they have been in contact with in the time leading up to their diagnosis.

What app will I need to download?

Not directly through the app, because it doesn't collect location information.

The coronavirus contact tracing app will not share your identity with anyone. The user can check his/her symptoms of coronavirus as well as of any other person. Ultimately, it will be up to the user to decide what information to submit, including whether they have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Government would be providing more test kits for the virus testing, delivering more details about the scale and extent of the virus spread to health authorities. England's National Health Service and numerous French ministries are operating on their own apps. Even though the data can't really be traced back to any particular phone or person, this is sensitive data that should never be exposed to the public or misused. The records will be stored locally on each device with the app. To succeed, then, the organizations and public health officers will want to persuade people to trust them with their information.

Bluetooth advocates say it would be a more accurate and less intrusive way of logging the closeness and duration of personal contacts than location tracking based on networks or satellites. After some time, the app data would be deleted automatically. The companies will initially provide public health authority apps with APIs to facilitate this contact tracing across devices, and later plan to bake this function into operating systems.

Apple and Google, the world's largest technology giants, and will collaborate to help authorities in tracking the coronavirus using Bluetooth technology. This means that each smartphone with the app downloaded spots when another phone is near to it and exchanges anonymous identifier beacons that are later used to analyze whether someone has come into contact with an infected individual. The companies announced the launch of contract-tracing technology last week. The companies stressed that they are building this functionality into the API at the device level in Phase 1, which is now underway.

In the first step, they would be releasing the application programming interfaces in May 2020.

Further down the track, "in the coming months", Apple and Google plan on enabling their broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform, which would be built into existing apps.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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