Apple and Google: the grand alliance against COVID-19

Countries from every continent are coming together and implementing the measures set out by the World Health Organization (WHO) to stop the coronavirus, although some countries like the United States have decided to turn their backs on the body and go to war alone. The North American country has stopped donating money to the WHO.

It is not always easy to agree to attack the same target, and even more so when the parties involved are rivals in the same industry. Such is the case of Apple and Google, which have entered into a rare partnership to bring technology to their smartphone platforms that will alert users if they have been in contact with a person with Covid-19. Humans don’t have to use the system, but it has the potential to monitor about a third of the world’s population.

The technology, known as contact tracing, aims to slow the spread of the new coronavirus by asking users to quarantine or isolate themselves after coming into contact with an infected person. This type of technology has already been put into practice in countries such as China or Korea and has also been implemented in Spain in collaboration with Google.

Born from the union of Google and Apple, the tool will work as a notification system, with the peculiarity that this time it will not be about friend notifications, but when a user tests positive for Covid-19 and adds this data to its public health application , users who have been approached in the last few days will be notified. This period could be 14 days, but health authorities can set the period.

But the two tech giants want to go one step further. In the coming months, both companies will embed the technology directly into their operating systems, allowing this contact tracing software to work without the need to download an app. Of course, users must still accept consent to use their data.

This practice conflicts with data protection laws, which may undergo changes and changes in their conception due to the current health crisis. Can large companies have this level of control over users? As data, Apple and Google together have around 3,000 million users, more than a third of the world’s population.

Donald Trump has already warned about the movements of these two participants in the global technology trade. “Google’s colossal reserves of data on the daily movements of Americans, coupled with the power of local, state and federal governments, is an alarming prospect.”

For their part, both companies are defending their work in the fight against COVID-19: “All of us at Apple and Google believe that there has never been a more important time to work together and solve one of the most pressing problems in the world,” the company said in a joint statement.