Apple and Google have decided that they will not allow GPS data collection or location tracking in apps which use a new contact tracing system for COVID-19. The companies have stated that they will create a system for notifying people who have been near COVID-19 positive individuals and plan to allow the location tracing system to be used only by the public health authorities.
Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android are the two operating systems, which together power around 99 per cent of the smart phones world wide.
Both firms have said that the primary goal of this decision is privacy and to prevent the governments from utilizing the system to compile the data on citizens. The system makes use of blue-tooth signals from cellphones to detect the encounters and does not store the GPS location data.
However, developers of several official COVID-19 related apps in the US told news agency Reuters that it was important they be allowed to access GPS location data in the contact tracing apps, for tracking outbreaks and identifying hotspots. Apple and Google have described location tracking as unstable and battery draining workarounds.
Recently, the companies stated that they will allow only one application per country to use the contact system, to encourage wider adoption and avoid fragmentation. The companies added that they support those countries which opt for a state or regional approach, and further added that the states in the US will be allowed to access the system.
(With inputs from agencies)