The contact tracing technology jointly developed by Google and Apple is rapidly drawing interest from a number of countries across the world, who are looking to incorporate the tool in their respective coronavirus efforts. So far, 23 nations from five different continents have sought to access this tool. The initial version of this co-developed system was released on Wednesday.
However, the authorities are expected to stop requiring users’ phone numbers as per the companies’ rules, which is one of the many restrictions put by the two firms when using the tool. These restrictions are proving to be a nuisance for the several governments that are tackling the COVID-19 issue in their respective countries.
Several governments are frustrated over the two top smartphone software developers’ insistence on prioritizing user privacy, which is severely undercutting the usefulness of the technology.
The companies stated that many 22 countries and several US states have sought access to their contact tracing technology. However, it is still not clear how many of these interested parties would actually end up developing mobile apps that use the tool.
Utilizing apps to boost contact tracing, where authorities identify as well as test people who have recently been in contact with a virus carrier, has come up as an effective measure to stem new COVID-19 outbreaks.
The technology can help government agencies test more potentially infected people than they would usually be capable of testing merely based the infected patients’ recalling their recent interactions from their memory alone.
Google and Apple have barred officials utilizing their technology from gathering GPS location info or needing users to enter their personal information.
A Principal Research Scientist at Sophos, a cybersecurity company, Chester Wisniewski stated that the situation is akin to a collision between privacy, tech, and health professionals, where the Venn diagram does not have a point where all three overlap.
The United Kingdom, Australia and other nations that are looking to build their own contact tracing technologies are experiencing several glitches, witnessing limited adoption, and seeing instances of the tech rapidly draining device batteries.
Meanwhile, Google and Apple also stated that their system would more reliably utilize Bluetooth connections between the devices to log any users that are in physical proximity of each other for a minimum of five minutes.