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Contact-Tracing Apps in the United States

LawFare: “…In the United States, efforts to develop digital contact-tracing systems have largely fallen to states and tech companies—though privacy advocates have voiced concerns about the invasiveness of such apps. Apple and Google recently agreed to partner in developing a contact-tracing technology that will be interoperable between iOS and Android phones and will provide public health officials and others with the ability to develop contact-tracing apps. The system uses Bluetooth beacons to log devices that phones have been near and anonymizes the data. The technology relies on a decentralized system—meaning that an individual’s data is stored locally on their phone rather than in a central database accessible to app developers or government officials. The companies have already released draft documentation and sample code for the API—the set of bare-bones protocols that will make contact-tracing schemes work on their respective platforms—and it should be available for developers to include in contact-tracing apps in mid-May. Later this year, users will no longer need to install an app to opt in to the contact-tracing effort: Apple and Google say proximity tracking will be built directly into phones’ operating systems in the coming months “to help ensure broad adoption.”…

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