Apple-Backed Coronavirus Contact-Tracing Tech Set to Arrive Ahead of Schedule

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The chief executive of the NHS digital technology unit NHSX, Matthew Gould, has confirmed the launch of an NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app in the coming weeks.

Here is a closer look at what we know so far. The next phase will add interfaces directly into Android and iOS to allow users to activate and disable beaconing on a system-wide level.

In Europe, most countries have chosen short-range Bluetooth "handshakes" between devices as the best approach, dismissing the alternative of using location data pursued by some countries in Asia as intrusive.

This proximity data log will be stored on a user's phone.

"The potential privacy concerns surrounding these contact tracing solutions should remind governments developing them that the security community will scrutinise these apps more than any app in recent years", Schweisshelm told IANS.

- Will it be able to do anything else?

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The first version of that tech will be available for developers next week, and the partnering tech companies have just announced some changes that will make the tool both more secure and more accurate. The companies would also "protect" any identifiable records about a person's mobile phone, along with which model of cellphone they are using or the signal strength of their transmissions.

Breton said the two companies' technology cooperation must comply with the bloc's guidelines on the use of only anonymised data with the user's consent and for a temporary period.

Breton's 30 minute-long video conference came a week after his video conference with Google chief Sundar Pichai and Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki to discuss their cooperation with Apple to create contact tracing technology. There are billions of smartphones still out in the world that simply don't have the BLE chips in them.

The two companies have pledged to reinforce security too, saying "privacy, transparency and consent are of utmost importance in this effort". It is known that the new application of Google, which is expected to be released in May, was developed within the scope of combating COVID-19.

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

Google said the app would only be used by public health officials for managing the COVID-19 pandemic, and that it is going to be turned off as soon as the health crisis ends.

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