Privacy vs. Public Health: Contract tracing apps on horizon

This April 28, 2020, photo shows a smartphone app built for the state of Utah displaying coronavirus test sites. The app tracks symptoms and shares location data for contact tracing, the process of determining who might have been exposed to the virus.  (AP Photo/Lindsay Whitehurst)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 10:57 AM PT — Wednesday, May 6, 2020

U.S. public health officials are looking to contact tracing technology to track new coronavirus outbreaks as lockdown restrictions begin to loosen.

In late April, Utah was the first state to unveil a contact tracing app in the hopes of slowing the spread of the virus by tracking the user’s location and seeing where positive cases have popped up.

These apps could be used to speed up the process of identifying cases and alerting anyone who may have come into contact with that person. However, the apps are continuing to raise concerns about privacy and could lack the numbers to be effective.

“Because the fact that it’s opt-in might make it harder to get the critical mass, you need to do effective tracing. In fact, Google has said it’s actually not for full contact tracing in the traditional sense. This is exposure notification. It will warn people that they should get tested and possibly isolate.”

— James Grimmelmann, Internet Law Professor – Cornell University

Google and Apple are working on a competing app, and said their priority is user privacy and to prevent governments from gathering information on citizens.

Health officials have said the only way the technology will work is if the U.S. continues to focus on greatness and the road to containment.

RELATED: President Trump downplays new model projections of 134K coronavirus deaths by August

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