Tim CookSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Apple has written a letter to four US senators.
  • The senators had written to CEO Tim Cook a week prior.
  • They were concerned about the privacy implications of coronavirus tools.

Apple Senior Director of Government Affairs Timothy Powderly has written to four senators who had voiced concerns about the privacy implications of the company's coronavirus screening tools. They'd initially sent a letter to CEO Tim Cook on April 3, with this response dated April 9, reports Bloomberg.

Apple's tools are available via both website and app, with the senators wanting to know whether they complied with HIPAA guidelines. But Apple's response says that the tools aren't subject to those guidelines, nor do they collect any personal data from people.

The screening site and the app are not covered by or otherwise subject to HIPAA. HIPAA applies when a covered entity (health care provider, health insurance company or health care clearinghouse) or business associate (on behalf of a covered entity) is using, disclosing, creating, receiving, maintaining or transmitting certain health information (known as "protected health information"). Here, data are entered into the website and app directly by users, and no covered entities are involved in or otherwise required for that interaction. Therefore neither the site nor app are covered by HIPAA.

The senators also wanted to know whether Apple was willing to "refrain from using data collected on the website and app for commercial purposes," to which a resounding "Yes" was offered as a response. Powderly also confirmed that no data will be sold to any third parties, too.

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You can read the whole 5-page letter for yourself to see what went down. But it's fair to say that Apple is pretty clear – these tools are safe and are not there to collect data for the use of Apple or third parties.