Apple Reassures US Senators About Privacy Protection In Virus Tools

Apple says its COVID-19 app will follow privacy standards

In response to some senators’ requests for information, Apple said in a letter that its new COVID-19 website and app would abstain from using any user data later on.

Sens. Bob Menendez, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Richard Blumenthal were behind the inquiry.

The website and app, enacted as part of the tech giant’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, aims to give people accurate information about the virus and to track its spread in the hopes of preventing an even worse infection rate going forward.

Apple assured the senators that it will not be tying the coronavirus site or app to any existing Apple account. This allows the company to eliminate concerns from critics that the site will store user data for some future purpose.

In the letter, Apple said it has entered into an agreement with the federal government regarding the site and app, where it will require every user’s express permission before storing or using their data, and that any data given to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be put in such a form that no identities could be gleaned. Thus, there should be no way a person can be re-identified after giving their data to the app.

The data, collected in an encrypted manner, will be protected with multiple safeguards in line with restricting its access to only those who need to see it.

Apple said it only collects the data absolutely necessary in order to track the virus, including the usage of the tool and app. After the information is no longer needed, Apple said, it is destroyed.

And, the tech giant said the data it collects will not be used in the future for marketing nor will it be sold to third parties.


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