Tim Cook at the iPhone 11 Pro eventSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Democratic senators have sent a letter to Tim Cook about Apple's COVID-19 app.
  • They have expressed concern about the privacy of users of the app.
  • Apple has expressed that the app does not collect any personal information.

Apple's COVID-19 app and website helps users screen for coronavirus-related symptoms and provides them with recommendations and links to trusted information.

A group of Democratic senators are now expressing concerns about user's privacy when using the app and website. Reported by Bloomberg, Senators Bob Menendez, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Richard Blumenthal have sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking about the matter.

The four senators are concerned "for the safety and security of Americans' private health data." To that end, they are asking Apple to provide information about the app including any data-sharing practices and if it complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). They are also asking for information about the company's potential agreements with federal or state agencies for the development of the app.

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In the press release for the app, Apple explains that the app does not collect and individual responses for either itself or any government agency.

"Consistent with Apple's strong dedication to user privacy, the COVID-19 app and website were built to keep all user data private and secure. The tools do not require a sign-in or association with a user's Apple ID, and users' individual responses will not be sent to Apple or any government organization."

On its website, Apple says that it does collect some information about how users use the app, but that it does not collect any information about the personal information of that user.

"Apple is not collecting your answers from the screening tool. To help improve the site, Apple collects some information about how you use it. The information collected will not personally identify you."

The COVID-19 app was developed by Apple in partnership with the CDC, the White House, and FEMA. You can use the service through either the website or by downloading the app for the iPhone on the App Store.

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