In a rare moment of detente, tech rivals Google and Apple are apparently teaming up with a new strategy to track and surveil Americans.
The tech giants will log people using their phone who have apparently tested positive for Covid 19. The corporations will track where the person goes using their phone, then issue warnings on other people’s phones when they get near an area where an infected person is or has recently been.
This is truly Orwellian. These are the same corporations that regularly discriminate against and censor conservatives.
Apple and Google announced a partnership Friday to try to use technology to trace the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The two companies, usually fierce rivals, said they would work together in the coming weeks to build new tools that would enable people and health authorities to track the virus using Bluetooth proximity data from their smartphones.
“We hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life,” the two companies said in a rare joint statement.
Google and Apple said their work would come in two stages. In the first stage, next month, they plan to release a set of tools known as application programming interfaces (APIs) so that apps created by public health authorities could work on both iPhones and on phones that run Google’s Android operating system.
Then, in the second stage over the coming months, the two companies would build a voluntary tracing system directly into their iOS and Android operating systems.
Versions of coronavirus tracking apps already exist in China, Singapore, Israel and elsewhere, but efforts have been slower in the U.S. and Europe, because of concerns about privacy and because “contact tracing” must be combined with widespread testing in order to work.
The idea is that an app could remember, via anonymous Bluetooth signals, which other phones have been nearby. If someone you had coffee with two days ago tests positive for the coronavirus, you would get a notification along the lines of “you may have recently been exposed” — and advising temporary isolation.
In the version of the system set to roll out next month, the operating-system-level Bluetooth tracing would allow users to opt in to a Bluetooth-based proximity-detection scheme when they download a contact-tracing app. Their phone would then constantly ping out Bluetooth signals to others nearby while also listening for communications from nearby phones.
If two phones spend more than a few minutes within range of one another, they would each record contact with the other phone, exchanging unique, rotating identifier “beacon” numbers that are based on keys stored on each device. Public heath app developers would be able to “tune” both the proximity and the amount of time necessary to qualify as a contact based on current information about how Covid-19 spreads.
If a user is later diagnosed with Covid-19, they would alert their app with a tap. The app would then upload their last two weeks of keys to a server, which would then generate their recent “beacon” numbers and send them out to other phones in the system. If someone else’s phone finds that one of these beacon numbers matches one stored on their phone, they would be notified that they’ve been in contact with a potentially infected person and given information about how to help prevent further spread.
This is just the latest creepy surveillance tactic that’s been proposed. You know, for our own safety and protection.