New privacy concerns arose last week when Apple Inc. and Google announced their upcoming collaboration. The companies have joined forces to develop a software application that will alert users if they have been in close proximity to an individual who has tested positive for COVD-19.
The app does not identify the infected individual, nor does it identify the location at which a user came into contact with the infected individual. The application, expected to be rolled out in two phases beginning mid-May, will use contact-tracing technology and public health data to determine which users may have had contact with a sick individual.
Critics in the United States object to this global exchange of sensitive health information, arguing that such information gathering violates a user’s right to privacy. The app’s developers claim that location data is not being collected and that users will need to expressly consent before their positive COVID-19 status will be shared with the app.
Still, this technology is controversial because it involves shares sensitive health information from billions of people via mobile devices that are constantly broadcasting their location.