Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
58,671
22,274


Apple and Google today announced a joint effort that will see them using Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus around the world.

applegoogle.jpg

Apple says that user privacy and security will be central to the design of the project. Participation will be opt-in, and privacy, transparency, and consent are "of the utmost importance of this effort."
Since COVID-19 can be transmitted through close proximity to affected individuals, public health officials have identified contact tracing as a valuable tool to help contain its spread. A number of leading public health authorities, universities, and NGOs around the world have been doing important work to develop opt-in contact tracing technology. To further this cause, Apple and Google will be launching a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing. Given the urgent need, the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy.
Starting in May, Apple and Google will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These apps will be available for users to download from the iOS App Store and Google Play.


In the coming months, Google and Apple will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into their underlying platforms. Apple says that this solution is more robust than an API and will allow more individuals to participate, if they choose to opt in, and it will enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities.
All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world's most pressing problems. Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.
All information about the work being conducted by Apple and Google will be openly published and built in consultation with interested stakeholders. Initial details on the contact tracing technology are available on Apple's new webpage for the feature, which has links to technical documentation on Bluetooth specifications, cryptography specifications, and the framework API.

TechCrunch has specific details on how the tracking procedures will work. A random, rotating identifier will be assigned to a person's phone, and it will be transmitted via Bluetooth to other nearby devices.

The identifier, which rotates every 15 minutes and has no personally identifiable information, will pass through a relay server that can be run by health organizations worldwide. The list of identifiers a person has been in contact with doesn't leave the phone unless the user explicitly decides to share it. Users that test positive will not be identified to other users, Apple or Google.

All identification matching is done on device, allowing users to see within a 14-day window, whether their iPhone has been near the device of a person who has self-identified as having tested positive for COVID-19. Users who are notified that they have been exposed will then receive steps on what to do through a public health app.

Apple and Google are not using any location data for the tracking feature, including from the users who report being positive. The tool is meant to determine not where affected people have been, but rather if they've been around other people so that those people will know to self isolate due to the exposure.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: Apple and Google Partner on Opt-In COVID-19 Contact Tracing Technology to Be Added to iPhone and Android Smartphones
 
Last edited:

sofila

macrumors 65816
Jan 19, 2006
1,136
1,292
Ramtop Mountains
If technology can help everyone, I don't care about someone's privacy issues

EDIT Edit after 1 day some 25 disagree later:
"Someone's privacy issues" is dedicated to those who still believe their movements, preferences, and whatever any other personal data have not already been archived and cataloged so far.
I'm not happy to sacrifice my privacy for a superior benefit for everyone, but I know that my privacy has long been gone especially in the last decade. If any Apple device owner still thinks that his/her "things" are still their own private matters...well, that's really naive.
 
Last edited:

icanhazapple

macrumors 6502a
Feb 26, 2009
531
1,062
...and what if someone is accused of committing a crime when this functionality is enabled - will Apple and Google comply with a warrant to release this information to police? This information doesn't reside on an individual's phone (it's beamed back to Apple/Google), so device level encryption doesn't help here.
 

Jakexb

macrumors 6502a
Mar 18, 2014
793
1,096
I know some people are going to lose their minds about this, but I think it's awesome.

Everything is tradeoffs and people who try to maintain ideological purity above all else give up a lot. We can maintain privacy and stop diseases from spreading at the same time as long as neither needs to be 100% perfect.

Apple's entire reputation as a company is based on privacy and I am optimistic they are not going to want to trash that reputation. There's no version of reality where Apple releases a feature where your personally identifiable location history is freely available to anyone who wants to pull it up.
 

rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
3,849
4,402
PHX, AZ.
Once these apps are available, some schools and busnesses may *require* opting in to this contact tracking in order for anyone to return to school, work, or etc, when they open back up. Or the business's insurance company or lawyer may require this to reduce liability.
Wouldn't survive a legal/constitutional challenge in the U.S.
Tracking a person's activities while not on the job requires legal justification. Not an "Because we say you have to".
This is the reason for opt-in rules.
 

Airforcekid

macrumors 68000
Sep 29, 2008
1,686
634
United States of America
At what point are we going to stop? I just don't know if its worth it anymore the constant eroding of our privacy/freedom, destruction of the stock market and an entire graduating class of 2020. Four of my friends have commited suicude in the past three weeks others are preparing to lose job offers to stop loss and my younger sister had her big 4 out of university job offer revoked.The fallout from this will be years long and the class of 2020 will probably end up like mine did in 2008.
 

Mr. Awesome

macrumors 65816
Feb 24, 2016
1,103
2,337
Idaho, USA
...and what if someone is accused of committing a crime when this functionality is enabled - will Apple and Google comply with a warrant to release this information to police? This information doesn't reside on an individual's phone (it's beamed back to Apple/Google), so device level encryption doesn't help here.

If Apple’s involved, then all the location information is probably anonymous. Plus it says that it’s opt-in, so most criminals probably wouldn’t really want to do this out of fear of being tracked (even though they probably wouldn’t be tracked).
 

Expos of 1969

Cancelled
Aug 25, 2013
3,942
7,626
Apple's entire reputation as a company is based on privacy and I am optimistic they are not going to want to trash that reputation
Please... Apple's entire reputation used to be based on high quality products. Well, we know that that ship has sailed and is now far from the truth. It's more recent "reputation" is based on millions that consider themselves trapped in the ecosystem, trapped in the nonsense of iMessage coloured bubbles, trapped by teenagers who must have an iPhone because their friends do, and those who don't research their options. Apple has been trashing its own reputation quite nicely by flogging defective devices at outrageous prices so this new dubious initiative is not going to help or hurt.
 

CylonGlitch

macrumors 68030
Jul 7, 2009
2,948
265
SoCal
Once these apps are available, some schools and busnesses may *require* opting in to this contact tracking in order for anyone to return to school, work, or etc, when they open back up. Or the business's insurance company or lawyer may require this to reduce liability.

If a company supplies me the phone, they can put and make any requirements that they want on it. Then you have zero assumption of privacy. I also don't need to carry it outside of work. As for my personal phone, they can't require anything to be installed on it, but they can also say it cannot connect to their network, which is fine with me.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.