Apple and Google have developed a new digital contact tracking framework for the COVID-1
Exposure Notification API Chooses Privacy First
Apple has introduced the Exposure Notification API to public health organizations. The feature is built into iOS 13.5, but it is not enabled by default. Even after it's turned on, you have to use a public health authority app to use the data.
That is, until later in 2020. In phase two, Apple plans to integrate the contact tracking feature directly into iOS and the iPhone.
The API is designed for privacy and security. Apple approves the use separately and is only available to public health organizations. The entire function, from the API to the notifications, is not mandatory. You need to sign up for this and enable the feature.
Since Apple does this safely, it only works with Bluetooth LE beacons. The company is not going to use GPS to track your location. Apple does not monitor anyone or send personal information to public health officials.
How Exposure Notifications Work
Once the user has turned on the exposure notification feature and signed up for the program with a supported app, the iPhone broadcasts a beacon regularly via Bluetooth. This beacon contains a random Bluetooth identification, a series of random numbers (not linked to your personal data).
These numbers change every 10 to 20 minutes to further protect your privacy.
According to Apple, at least once a day, your iPhone downloads a list of keys to the verified beacons from those confirmed as COVID-19 positive. Your iPhone will then check your local copy of exchanged beacons against the list downloaded from the server.
If there is an agreement, you will be informed and your app will advise you what to do next.
Here's a hypothetical scenario to help you understand the process:
- Let's say Jack went to the park and sat next to Jill (a few feet apart, of course). They both have a health app that uses the Exposure Tracking API.
- Since Jack and Jill stayed in the same place for more than 10 minutes, their smartphones exchanged Bluetooth beacons with unique keys.
- A week or so later, Jill is diagnosed with COVID-19. She opens her health app and submits evidence of positive testing for COVID-19 using documents from her healthcare provider.
- Later today, Jack's iPhone downloads a list of all recent beacons for people who have tested positive for COVID-19. Jack is notified that he has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 because of his interaction with Jill in the park.
- All this is done privately; Jack doesn't know who Jill is or when he ran into someone with the virus. It will only tell Jack when the beacons have been exchanged.
- Jack can then follow the app's instructions on what to do next.
- If Jack then tests positive with COVID-19, he can follow the same steps to warn the people he may have been in contact with.
Manage COVID-19 exposure notifications on iPhone
You can manage exposure notification settings from the Settings app on your iPhone. From here you can enable or disable the feature (it is disabled by default) and see which app has access to the data.
Open the "Settings" app on your iPhone and go to Privacy> Health> COVID-19 Exposure Logging.
Here you can tap the switch next to "Exposure Logging" to enable the function. While you're at it, it might be a good idea to take a moment to clean your iPhone and wash your hands.
You can see enabled apps in the & # 39; Active app & # 39; section. If you choose, you can also delete your exposure log from this screen.
As we said, to use the feature, you must install an authorized app from your local health authority. Here you can report your COVID-19 status.
When you install an authorized app, you are asked to enable the exposure notification feature. Tap "Enable" to enable the function.
As you can see, Apple and Google's exposure notification system is not a complete replacement for traditional contact tracking. method. But it will help public health officials find people who may have been exposed to the virus in a way that doesn't share personal information.
Of course, the system is not waterproof and will not always work. For example, if you just ran into someone who has COVID-19, and your iPhone didn't have time to exchange the Bluetooth tokens, you're out of luck. The same is true if the person doesn't have a health tracking app installed.
Joanna Stern's YouTube video provides a good explanation of how Coronavirus contact tracking apps (which will be built on top of the Exposure Notifications API) will work. 
You can also read our in-depth look at contact tracking to learn more about the process.
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