You may have noticed recently that your cellphone now has a setting for COVID-19 exposure notifications.
The sight of this setting on iPhones and Android devices has led some people on social media to claim Apple and Google have uploaded tracking apps to individual phones without permission. That is not true.
Instead, the two companies are partnering to create technology that will allow apps built by public health agencies to work more accurately on Android phones and iPhones, according to a news release from the two companies.
Apple and Google announced last month that they are partnering to help public health officials with a process called contact tracing. Public health agencies use contact tracing to track who has potentially been exposed to an illness, such as COVID-19, as part of their efforts to contain the spread of disease.
The technology they built is not an app, but rather something public health agencies can use in building their own application that people can then install on their phones, according to the news release.
Each Android phone or iPhone user gets to decide whether or not to use the exposure notifications, according to the news release.
“(T)he system does not collect or use location from the device; and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to report that in the public health app,” the companies said in the release.
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