Apple recently announced Exposure Notification Express that enables Contact Tracing without needing a separate app. Before this, the Exposure Notification API required an app by public health authorities. The new Exposure Notification Express has arrived on iOS 13.7. The new contact tracing system has caused concerns among some iOS users who are afraid of being tracked.
These users are not updating to iOS 13.7, fearing Apple might track their location and use the data. On the other hand, the new contact tracing method is expected to make it easier for public health authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19. People have already started floating conspiracy theories and question Apple’s intent behind the contact tracing.
Many are fearing state surveillance and not ready to accept the benefits of contact tracing. The method is typically used to clamp down the spread of outbreaks like in the case of COVID-19. Contact tracing uses Bluetooth and notifies iPhone users if they have come in contact with the person tested positive for COVID-19. Furthermore, it will also save public health authorities the trouble of manually tracking all the people who have been in contact with the positive person.
Google and Apple jointly developed the Exposure Notification feature. Early on, there were some privacy concerns, and Apple quickly addressed the same. And If you feel the benefits of contact tracing outweigh that of privacy, then you can choose not to opt-in. Yes, the feature is opt-in, and no one is forcing smartphone users to register. Moreover, the feature is turned off by default.
Contact Tracing Conspiracy Theories
This is a DANGEROUS precedent! Including a tracking device WITHOUT letting phone users know AND give them the ability to disable it is another step towards "1984"!
— Clyde (@clydetwopointoh) May 22, 2020
The above Tweet shows how people are jumping to conclusions, even without understanding how the feature works. @clydetwopointoh also refers to the dystopian novel “1984.’ In response to CNN’s tweet, one user said, “Glad for an Android.” A few expressed they are “thankful for having a Galaxy.”
So thankful I have a Galaxy. Don't track me without my consent.
— John Galt 🇺🇸 (@ThatWasPerfect) September 1, 2020
Another user on MacRumors forum said, “Downloading iOS versions with this tracking is agreeing to tyranny … A location tracking device, audio and text spying, social control, and modification — are you getting it yet?”
Busting Contact Tracing Myths
Time to bust some myths. Firstly, Express Notification is opt-in, so if you do get to choose whether Apple tracks, you are not. Bluetooth data is shared via anonymized identifiers, and these tokens are encrypted. There is no way anyone can extract your details by using the identifiers. Still worried about your privacy? Here is how you can opt-out of Exposure Notification on iOS devices.[via Cult of Mac]