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Image credit: Thierry Breton/Twitter

Apple and Google will release COVID-19 contact-tracing tools next week

France's own COVID-19 tracking app will arrive in mid-May.
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
April 23, 2020
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Thierry Breton/Twitter

Apple and Google’s COVID-19 contact tracking technology will be released to developers on April 28th, weeks before the companies initially said it would arrive. Tim Cook revealed the information to European commissioner Thierry Breton after the two met by video conference, according to Les Echos.

During the meeting, Breton pressed Apple to guarantee that the contact tracking technology would be in line with EU privacy laws, by being anonymous, voluntary, transparent, temporary, secure and interoperable. The EU has said that it will only approve Google and Apple’s contact tracing tech for a limited time during the COVID-19 crisis, provided it complies with privacy rules.

France is also developing its own COVID-19 tracking app, set to be ready on May 11th when the pandemic lockdown orders are to be lifted in the nation. However, the French government plans to use Bluetooth technology, in part, to do that, and is stymied by restrictions Apple has placed on how third-party apps can use Bluetooth data. Breton didn’t address that point, however, saying that “technical considerations must be settled at the member state [and not the EU] level.”

The video chat with Cook follows a similar chat Breton held with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki. During that chat, he asked Google about the contact tracing app and requested that the company limited streaming data rates to reduce strain on Europe’s broadband infrastructure. Most services, including Netflix, YouTube and others have agreed do that.

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