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UK will (at last) use Apple/Google contact tracing tech


In a sudden moment of clarity, the UK government has decided to abandon its own attempt to create a contact tracing app in favor of using technology developed and provided by Apple and Google.

Private lives are healthy, too

Apple and Google introduced their own joint take on contact tracing a few weeks ago. They described the technology as something that enables data to be gathered around COVID-19 spread, but not at the cost of user privacy. It achieved this by adopting a decentralized approach to the challenge.

That approach did have one cost – it made it harder for public health to track disease clusters (or at least, so it is claimed); however, it also has one advantage: People are willing to use the technology since they are promised control over their own privacy.

It seems that while everyone is terrified of the virus, people are equally disturbed at the thought of dystopian government surveillance via digital devices.

The UK National Health Service (NHS) has appointed a former Apple executive, Simon Thompson, to lead the project, which has been beset by delay. Thompson’s LinkedIn page shows he also holds positions at Ocado, Royal Mail and sits on Coca-Cola’s Digital Advisory Board.

It is worth noting that several countries (Germany, Austria, Portugal, Ireland, Switzerland, Uruguay, Italy and others) are already using the Apple/Google tech quite successfully.

It may be worth noting: those that are doing so also appear to be nations that seem to have managed to contain the spread of the virus. The UK has seen tens of thousands of casualties so far and a litany of failed promises and poor delivery. The same is true in the U.S., where nearly 120,000 people have died.

How it works

We’ve looked at how the Apple/Google system works before, but a quick refresh is in order:

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.


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