Google and Apple Launch Coronavirus Tracking Technology…ON YOUR PHONE

( Apple and Google users have taken to Twitter to express surprise at the introduction of coronavirus tracking technology in updates that are automatically applied to their smartphones. The two smartphone and tech giants have released new over-the-air updates that help with coronavirus tracing efforts.

For some, it isn’t a problem and is part of a national effort to fight the virus. To others, it’s a privacy invasion.

According to AP News, the two tech companies released updates on Wednesday that can notify smartphone users if they have been in contact with somebody who has been exposed to the Chinese coronavirus. It comes as 22 countries globally, and a number of stated in the United States, are working on creating phone apps that use Apple and Google software to help people stay on top of whether they have been in contact with infected people.

The updates, while they may seem scary, don’t actually take personal data or invade your privacy and only affect a user if they download one of the voluntary apps that help trace the spread of the virus. The technology uses Bluetooth, a system that is already used to transmit data between phones and more commonly between phones and wireless headphones.

Bluetooth will be used by these apps to determine what people you have come into close contact with recently, and when the app collects the data it can notify users who came within a certain distance of somebody else who tested positive for the Chinese virus.

The United Kingdom is already preparing to roll out a National Health Service app that does precisely that, and several states, including South Carolina and Alabama, already have apps ready that were waiting to use the updates from Google and Apple.

Both companies confirmed that all users will have their privacy protected by encryption, and that anonymous identifier beacons will regularly change to ensure that any data shared is not identifiable to a specific person. It means that the system will let you know if you came into contact with somebody, but neither you nor the system will know who that person was.

Republican Governor of North Dakota Doug Burgum praised the work.

“We invite other states to join us in leveraging smartphone technologies to strengthen existing contact tracing efforts, which are critical to getting communities and economies back up and running,” he said.

Hey, if it means we can get back out there to work and living our lives, then it might only be a good thing.