Alphabet’s Google and Apple announced on Tuesday that a new system will be launched that will enable public health authorities to perform contact tracing with the use of smartphones to assist in contact tracing without having to build an app.
The new system is called Exposure Notification Express. According to sources, the system will allow public health officials to submit a small configuration file to Apple and Google. The two tech companies aim on using this config file to set up systems in order to determine whether the phone owners have been near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
With the release of new iOS – 13.7, iPhones have been set to alert users whether their local authorities have enabled the exposure notification system and will allow the users to set it up without downloading any new apps. In the case of Android devices, however, the user will get a prompt on their system regarding the same, but will still have to download an automatically generated app.
The system allows two iPhones to communicate with each other and if someone who tested positive for the virus is in close proximity of the user then it notifies the user of the possibility of getting exposed to COVID – 19. On Android, users will get a notification if their state has made the Exposure Notifications Available to them via play store after which they have to download the app provided by their local health authorities.
Taking into consideration user’s privacy, the system will provide users with an option to opt-in for the Exposure Notification Express. It will not automatically opt them into the program without the user’s content unless they have already opted for it in the previous version of iOS. However, iOS has also been set with option through which the users can turn off the system at any time.
Once you are opt-in to the notification system, a random ID is generated for your device which is changed every 10-20 minutes to ensure the privacy of the user. These random IDs are exchanged in the background via Bluetooth and any app is not required to be kept running for this process to take place.
Authorities at Google and Apple claim that the user’s private information is protected and also that their identity is not shared with other users, Google, or Apple. But the success of this system entirely depends on the user’s feeling confident that their private information is protected.
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