What you need to know
- Apple and Google have released revisions to their contact tracing technology.
- The companies also committed to shutting down the service once the pandemic is over.
- A new FAQ is also available that answers common questions about the service.
Apple and Google continue to develop their contact tracing technology, and the companies have revised their initial proposal after announcing the joint effort two weeks ago. According to a report by The Verge, the revisions to the proposal were resulted from guidance that both companies received regarding improvements to the technology.
One notable difference is that the companies have stopped referring to the service as a "contact tracing" and now instead call the the technology "exposure notification".
The companies hosted a call on Friday in which both pledged to disable the technology once the pandemic has been contained. Representatives said that the decision to disable the service would need to be made on a region-by-region basis, and that the responsibility would lie with local health authorities.
"On a call accompanying the announcement, representatives from each company pledged for the first time to disable the service after the outbreak had been sufficiently contained. Such a decision would have to be made on a region-by-region basis, and it's unclear how public health authorities would reach such a determination. However, the engineers stated definitively that the APIs were not intended to be maintained indefinitely."
The companies also released a new FAQ that offers more details about the service. According to the new document, the public health authorities will determine the amount of time two devices need to be near each other in order to be considered a match.
"Public health authorities will set a minimum threshold for time spent together, such that a user needs to be within Bluetooth range for at least 5 minutes to register a match. If the contact is longer than 5 minutes, the system will report time in increments of 5 minutes up to a maximum of 30 minutes to ensure privacy."
Apple and Google acknowledge that the technology is only one tool to be used in the fight against COVID-19 but one that both companies hope help both health authorities and those they are trying to protect.
"Exposure notification is only one element of the response to COVID-19 and is hoped to be a useful technology in the toolbox of public health authorities. As the response to the pandemic evolves technological solutions will need to continue to adapt as well so the efforts of public health authorities can be amplified."
You can check out all of the information available on the technology at Apple's Privacy-Preserving Contact Tracing website.
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