NAAG Asks Apple and Google to Further Secure the Privacy of End users of COVID-19 Contact Tracing Apps

On June 16, 2020, The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) sent a letter to Apple and Google to communicate issues regarding consumer privacy connected to COVID-19 contact tracing along with exposure notification programs. NAAG gave suggestions to help safeguard the personally identifiable information and sensitive health information of the countless of users who will be prompted to get the applications to help regulate COVID-19.

Though digital contact tracing can give a helpful tool to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and help the public health reaction to the crisis, this kind of technology presents a danger to consumers’ personally identifiable information, which include sensitive health data, that may go on after the current public health emergency concludes.

Privacy protections are necessary for guaranteeing that end-users of the apps don’t have sensitive information exposed or employed for reasons other than aiding to deal with the spread of COVID-19. With no privacy protections, end users will never download the applications, which will lower their efficiency. A study done by the University of Oxford shows that to accomplish the objectives of the apps, there should be an uptake of approximately 60% of a customer base. If users think their privacy is at stake, that number will never be reached.

Present perceptions regarding the privacy protections connected with COVID-19 contact tracing applications were investigated in a recent research study done for the antivirus business Avira. Of the 2,005 survey participants in the U.S., 71% stated they don’t have a plan to employ the apps once they become accessible. 44% were troubled with regards to digital privacy, 39% mentioned the apps gave a wrong sense of security, 37% explained they feel the apps will not do the job, and 35% don’t rely on the app developers.

The survey showed that many users don’t have faith in Apple and Google to secure the information obtained by the applications. Merely 32% of respondents mentioned they have confidence in the companies to secure their sensitive information, although the two firms have done what is necessary to enforce privacy and security regulation. There is even much less confidence in the government. Merely 14% of respondents stated they would have faith in contact tracing apps made available specifically by the government. 75% of people in America stated they feel their digital privacy might be put on the line in case COVID-19 contact tracing data was made available to the government and authorized bodies.

The letter which 39 state attorneys general signed had brought up issues about the various contact tracing apps downloadable from the Apple App and Google Play Store. These apps are normally free to acquire and utilize and display in-app advertisements to earn profits. In lieu of utilizing Google and Apple’s API and Bluetooth for discovering probable exposure, the apps depend on GPS tracking.

The state AGs additionally showed worry that as more public health authorities begin to launch contact tracing programs that make use of the Apple and Google API, it is possible that a lot of more programmers will commence issuing apps, and those applications might not include the needed privacy and security settings to conform to states’ regulations.

Apple and Google were lauded for taking measures to make certain that consumer privacy is safeguarded. NAAG has required any contact tracing software that is branded or promoted as linked to COVID-19 to be connected with either a county, municipal federal or state public health department, or a hospital or university the United States that is dealing with such public health experts.

NAAG additionally requested Apple and Google to assure that all COVID-19 contact tracing software will be delisted from Apple App and Google Play Store when they aren’t connected with the above agencies, and for Apple and Google to promise that all COVID-19 applications will be delisted from Apple App and Google Play Store any time the COVID-19 national public health emergency concludes.

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Christine Garcia is the staff writer on Calculated HIPAA. Christine has several years experience in writing about healthcare sector issues with a focus on the compliance and cybersecurity issues. Christine has developed in-depth knowledge of HIPAA regulations. You can contact Christine at [email protected]. You can follow Christine on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChrisCalHIPAA