Senators reportedly plan COVID-19 contact-tracing privacy bill

Senators reportedly plan COVID-19 contact-tracing privacy bill. A group of U.S. senators are reportedly planning to release a law regulating contact tracking apps on Monday to protect users’ privacy as technology is used to track the spread of the novel Coronavirus.

Apple and Google have developed technologies to track the spread of COVID-19.


Angela Lang / CNET

The proposal would be referred to as the Exposure Notification Privacy Act, according to the Washington Post, and would ensure that people cannot be forced to use the technology. It would also ensure that the data was not used for advertising or commercial purposes, the newspaper said, quoting one of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington democrat.

“We’re all confused that our browsing history could be sold a thousand times,” she told the Washington Post, “but if it’s your health history, it’s a whole new realm.”

The bill would also allow users to erase their data and would require Axios notification systems to “only accept authorized medical diagnoses”.

Cantwell’s co-sponsors include Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana; and Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota democrat.

Cantwell, Cassidy and Klobuchar offices did not immediately respond to requests for comments, as did Apple or Google.

The coronavirus that causes a respiratory disease called COVID-19 was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of last year. Since then, it has become a full-blown pandemic that infects over 6.2 million people and kills over 370,000 people worldwide. The outbreak has resulted in cities and entire countries issuing barriers, closing shops, canceling events and forcing citizens to stay at home to contain the corona virus. Some locations have started to reopen, but experts warn that the risk of infection remains.

Companies have worked on technologies to speed up the contact tracking process, which in turn would slow the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracking, which is done in the normal way of old school, is labor intensive because people track down anyone who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the disease.

Apple and Google announced in April that they were working together to stop the spread of COVID-19, which uses signals from phones to warn them when they have had contact with someone in the past 14 days tested positive for the disease. The technology was made available to the state health authorities at the end of MayAlabama, North Dakota and South Carolina are among the first to use it.

The joint project uses two of the world’s most popular operating systems – Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android – to potentially reach billions of people. The tools will use Bluetooth wireless technology to support apps developed by health authorities, and iPhones and devices powered by Google’s Android software can communicate with each other.

Privacy watchers and civil liberties advocates have warned that using contact tracking technology will lead to an inequality in who is counted when governments make public health decisions. Apple and Google have tried to alleviate the fear of data protection by optimizing how the system works. First, it is activated, which means that it is not activated by default.

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