Roundup Of Apple's Latest COVID-19 Efforts And Responses

Apple announced today that it released a mobility data trends tool from Apple Maps to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, it was reported yesterday that Apple sent a letter to the US Senate to addreess concerns about the privacy and security of the COVID-19 app and website, and the company also stated that the contract-tracing system it developed with Google will have a verification flow.

Apple's new mobility data trends tool released

The mobility data trends tool, according to Apple, is designed to provide insight into social distancing during the outbreak. Further, this tool may also be used as a foundation for new public policies by showing the change in volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit in their communities.

Apple explains how it used Apple Maps to collect data for the mobility data trends tool:
Maps does not associate mobility data with a user’s Apple ID, and Apple does not keep a history of where a user has been. Using aggregated data collected from Apple Maps, the new website indicates mobility trends for major cities and 63 countries or regions. The information is generated by counting the number of requests made to Apple Maps for directions. The data sets are then compared to reflect a change in volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit around the world. Data availability in a particular city, country, or region is subject to a number of factors, including minimum thresholds for direction requests made per day.
As it always is, Apple said that since the beginning, prrvacy has been integrated into the core of Maps. This means that the data obtained by Maps, such as search terms, navigation routing, and traffic information, is associated with random, rotating identifiers that are constantly reset, so that Apple does not have a profile of one's movements and searches.

Users can access Mobility Trends Reports through

Letter to Senators regarding privacy concerns of COVID-19 app and website

In a letter to Semators, Apple says that the app and website were built with privacy at the core, it also addreessed privacy concerns one could have. Apple's statement highlighted by Bloomberg:
Consistent with Apple's strong dedication to user privacy, the COVID-19 app and website were built to protect the privacy and security of users' data. As you note, use of the tools do not require a sign-in or association with a user's Apple ID, and users' individual responses are not sent to Apple or any government organization. Access to important information and guidance regarding individual health or the health of a loved one should not require individuals to compromise their privacy rights. Rather, it is in times like these, that our commitment to protecting those rights is most important. Our COVID-19 app and website were designed with that in mind.
Apple says that it does not gather any information entered on the website or app and applies the same data minimization criteria to the COVID-19 method as it does to other products. The only data that is collected is the data required to facilitate the operation of the website and app, classified as non-personally identifiable information.

Apple and Google's contract-tracing system includes a verification process

In a press briefing, Apple said the contract tracing system it built in collaboration with Google offers a verification mechanism that will prohibit users from falsely claiming that they tested positive for COVID-19 and intentionally causing concern to others. Apple said the verification will be done by an external entity and can differ by region.

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