Apple and Google will shut down coronavirus tracing app when pandemic ends, companies say

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Apple and Google say they will shut down their coronavirus contact tracing app after the pandemic is under control, as the tech giants strive to address ongoing privacy concerns about the effort.

The two Silicon Valley giants on Friday announced a series of adjustments in the effort that they've dubbed "Exposure Notification" -- meant to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of COVID-19 -- which is set to begin its first phase next month.

Among the main points published in a document called Frequently Asked Questions were:

  • Any user will have to make an explicit choice to turn on the technology. It can also be turned off by the user at any time.
  • This system does not collect location data from your device, and does not share the identities of other users to each other, Google or Apple. The user controls all data they want to share, and the decision to share it.

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The Silicon Valley companies are building a tracing program that could be widely implemented.

The Silicon Valley companies are building a tracing program that could be widely implemented. (Apple/Google)

The document also noted:

  • Exposure notification is only done on device and under the user's control. In addition, people who test positive are not identified by the system to other users, or to Apple or Google.
  • The system is only used for contact tracing by public health authorities' apps.
  • Google and Apple can disable the exposure notification system on a regional basis when it is no longer needed.

"Exposure Notification makes it possible to combat the spread of the spread of the coronavirus -- the pathogen that causes COVID-19 -- by alerting participants about possible exposure to someone they have recently been in contact with, who has subsequently been positively diagnosed as having the virus," the companies state in the document.

Worldwide more than 2.7 million people worldwide have been infected with coronavirus and at least 194,456 killed in the pandemic.