It may sound unsettling or even downright creepy for the device that’s generally with you 24/7 to make it possible for authorities to trace your exposure to a potentially fatal illness that’s currently consuming the world. That’s why Apple and Google have been bending over backward to provide privacy assurances about the platform-compatible programming interfaces they’re putting into iOS and Android. On Monday, they offered new details, as well as images of the push notifications users might receive should they have come into contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19.
Among the assurances provided is that apps that use the application programming interfaces can only be developed by or for public health authorities and that the limited amount of information they can collect may be used solely for tracing COVID-19 infections. Apps will be barred from seeking location permissions and must collect the least amount of data possible to trace the physical contacts of other opt-in app users who later find out they’re infected. None of the data collected may be used for any commercial purposes.