Apple Inc. and Google answered questions about their upcoming Covid-19 smartphone contact tracking solution on Monday and provided details of a partnership that raises concerns about privacy and cyber security experts.
The companies said the tool requires users to review positive diagnoses before entering this information into the system. The test results are being reviewed by public health authorities that develop mobile apps that use contact tracing technology, Apple and Google added. They also defended the privacy of the system and repeated that users' names and locations were not shared or saved.
The partnership was announced on Friday. The technology is designed to curb the spread of the novel corona virus by instructing users to quarantine or isolate themselves after contact with an infected person. Since then, some experts have found that the system may be vulnerable to spoofing and incorrect test results may be entered.
On Monday, the companies also said that the system could record contact between people if smartphone users were a few meters apart for up to 10 minutes. The companies found that Bluetooth wireless technology can detect devices up to 15 feet away.
Apple and Google install the technology in two steps in their iOS and Android operating systems. In mid-May, iPhones and Android phones are to be given the opportunity to exchange anonymous information wirelessly via apps operated by health authorities. In the coming months, they will be integrating the technology directly into their operating systems to reach more people.
A Google representative said on Monday that the tools would be added to Android via a download from the Google Play Store. Apple will offer it via an iOS software update. Apple said the goal is to make it compatible with as many iPhones as possible, including older models.
The functionality will only be available for apps in the area of public health, according to the companies. This means that other developers, for example, cannot create a mobile game with the data. This also means that users have to download an official app to enter test results. However, in phase two of the project, alerts are sent to potentially billions of iOS and Android users without the need for an app.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)