Social media is flooded with news and messages that Apple and Google might have uploaded and installed tracking app for COVID into your smartphone without your permission. Facebook and Twitter have been buzzing since the news surfaced to air and made people desperately anxious about it.
Meanwhile, the truth is over the other side of the coin. As per the latest reports, there is no app installed in millions of Android and iOS devices over last week. Officially stated, the feature is an application programming interface (API) that has been added to the operating system.
The feature, which you will find in the settings as “COVID-19 Exposure Notifications” will allow any other application to function once it becomes available and if you decide to install it. The feature will automatically become active if a user installs a government or private COVID-19 tracking app.
Apple and Google published a joint statement about the issue saying, “What we’ve built is not an app- rather public health agencies will incorporate the API into their apps that people install. Our technology is designed to make these apps work better.”
There is no harm to your Privacy
Many users frightened over the thought that the feature could send private data such as location, call history, and images to Google and Apple private cloud servers. But as it turns out, the feature contrarily does its work. The feature locates any COVID-19 positive patients near yourself.
When any user tries or will try to click on the option of COVID-19 contact tracing and locating feature in Android or iOS devices, a pop up will be shown stating that there is a need to download or finish setting up the participating app before notifications could be turned on.
How to turn on COVID-19 Exposure Notifications?
Similarly to any tracing app, the feature will ask you to enable Bluetooth of the device. Then, once you start roaming in public places random IDs are exchanged using Bluetooth between your phone and the phones of others who have opted in around you.
Such random IDs are stored in your phone and not shared on Apple and Google central database server. Unless a person reports themself as a COVID-19 affectee on the, your data is safe and secure. For your interest, it is important to know that such IDs change every 30 minutes.
And your particular/stored records will be deleted every 14 days. So, it is a win-win situation. Google said that “the public health authority app is not allowed to use or disclose your phone’s location or track your location or privacy features in the background.”
How to turn off COVID-19 Exposure Notifications?
If a user wants to disable, they can simply uninstall the COVID-19 tracking app on their phones and the notifications will automatically stop. Or, for iOS devices, navigate to Settings> Privacy> Health and toggle on or off.
For Android users, click on Google>COVID-19 exposure notifications. From here, you can toggle the feature on or off. To delete your stored records, simply click on Delete random IDs> Delete. It is strongly recommended ‘Not’ to disable the notification from devices.