Last week, we talked here about the joint initiative of the Apple It’s from Google would apply to the two most popular mobile operating systems in the world (iOS and Android), a tracking technology to detect possible contacts between people infected with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). For those who have not followed the story, this article provides more information about the project and its operation.
At first the idea looks great, but from the beginning there were some doubts on issues related to user privacy. For this week, the American Union for Civil Rights (ACLU, one of the oldest human rights groups) has expressed these concerns most forcefully.
The group praised Apple and Google for the initiative, saying that any attempt to contain the virus is valid; ACLU also applauded the companies’ decision not to use geolocation methods in the system, preferring to adopt Bluetooth as a way of detecting people with COVID-19 nearby.
However, not everything is flowers: the group recalled that, as well as location histories, proximity ones can also – even anonymous – be traced back to the user, based on the people with whom we were close and the places where we frequent.
ACLU also asked Apple and Google to be clearer in defining some points of the system, such as the classification of a relevant “contact” (epidemiologically speaking), and suggested that companies add a layer of technology to the technology. choice – in this case, the user could decide whether his proximity database would be shared with health authorities, which, according to the ACLU, would reduce the number of false positives and encourage people to participate in the program even if their health history proximity to include “sensitive” contacts.
In addition, the group stated that the technology needs to be voluntary – this way, it will no longer have a coercive “air” and will be used by people more frequently and naturally, potentially increasing the accuracy of the data and improving the results. Finally, the ACLU asked Apple and Google to include a “self-destruct” button in the technology, so that the user has their data completely exterminated after the end of the pandemic and the tracking program.
The companies have not commented on the orders, but we will certainly hear more about that in the coming days.
While ACLU asks for more privacy from the tracking system, Apple and Google are sort of facing the opposite problem in United Kingdom. The two companies entered an impasse with the NHS (National Health Service, the country’s public health system) due to the agency’s requests for an API that gathers British citizens’ proximity data on a centralized server, accessible by the entity and the government.
The NHS request goes against the policies of Apple and Google, which prefer to conduct proximity analyzes anonymously on decentralized servers – thus protecting the (supposedly) anonymous character of the system. The British agency wants that, in addition to the notifications on the user’s smartphone alerting of the recent proximity to a possible infected with the Coronavirus, the government can access this list of “contacts” and map the population flow.
With the API proposal currently under development by companies, the NHS tracking application could not work satisfactorily: it would have to remain open, with the smartphone on, to fulfill its purpose to the satisfaction. If the agency gives in and starts tracking citizens in an anonymous and decentralized manner, on the other hand, it will be possible to use the upcoming API from Apple and Google normally.
So let’s see what this is going to do.
Tim Cook in California’s economic recovery group
Tim Cook – who was summoned by Donald Trump as a post-pandemic United States economic reopening consultant – has now been named a member of a task force designed to recover the state’s California. The information is CNBC.
The group was brought together by the state governor, Gavin Newsom, and has 70 members – in addition to Cook, we have the former Disney CEO (and board member of Apple) Bob Iger, the former Democratic Party presidential candidate Tom Steyer and yet another series of important names for the Californian economy.
The task force will hold biweekly meetings throughout 2020, with the purpose of discussing and implementing policies that help state businesses to recover as quickly as possible from the impacts of the pandemic. The group’s actions will be especially important considering that, in the last month alone, a record of more than 2.7 million California citizens have applied for unemployment insurance and other such benefits.
Donation of facial protectors
Finally, Apple recently donated 160 thousand facial protectors – produced in the company’s own manufacturing chain – by Logistics Victory Los Angeles, an initiative by the Californian city to donate masks and protective equipment to hospitals and organizations that need them.
The action is part of the initiative announced by Cook last April and has already been reported here.
Very good, isn’t it?
via 9to5Mac, The Guardian, MacRumors, AppleInsider