Apple and Google contact-tracing app will be shut down after the pandemic is over, say the two tech giants, although that’s vague enough to have the thing hanging around until next year – or whenever a vaccine is created.
The pair announced the news earlier this month, and are said to have butted heads with the NHS, which is developing its own app and is currently in the alpha phase and being tested. There are a number of privacy concerns over both of these apps, as well as basic, glaring issues as to their efficacy if they remain opt-in. There’s a real possibility that social distancing measures will be relaxed for those using the app, to encourage adoption, making the opt-in aspect a load of old bollocks. People getting antsy cooped up indoors would happily sign away their privacy to use an app that lets them resume some level of normality again. Those points aside, Google and Apple have stated that the contact tracing tool will be shut down once the pandemic is over.
What constitutes the end of the pandemic? Will it shut down simultaneously worldwide? Conveniently, no clarification has been provided around this at all. The general consensus is that it’s very unlikely that we’ll find a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19 before the end of the year, and with different countries’ responses and death tolls varying wildly, the app may be ‘needed’ in some and not in others. Engineers from the project have said that the APIs weren’t designed to be around forever, but again, that’s not really answering any questions. So it’s a vague update made to quell privacy concerns by the sounds of it, that fails to do so completely. [Ubergizmo]
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