Apple And Google Displayed Unaccountable Power Over COVID-19 Contact Tracing

Apple logo with google logo

Apple and Google have had a major influence in how COVID-19 contact tracing has progressed, or hasn’t, in various countries. Writing for Businesss Insider, Tom Loosemore, a cofounder of the UK’s Government Digital Service, expressed concern at their unaccountable power.

I hope I am wrong, but I fear that Google and Apple’s approach will not prove particularly valuable in the messy real world of contact tracing. It is just too crude. Google and Apple have given governments an abacus in an era of machine learning. I’ll admit I was instinctively pleased when I heard of Google and Apple’s decision. Throughout my career, I’ve defended people’s privacy from your typical state’s propensity to collect ever more data about their citizens, often without reason. But in the weeks since April 10, I’ve reflected more on the nature of power. Who has power? And how is it held to account?

Check It Out: Apple And Google Displayed Unaccountable Power Over COVID-19 Contact Tracing

2 thoughts on “Apple And Google Displayed Unaccountable Power Over COVID-19 Contact Tracing

  • Agreed Geoduck, had either Apple or Google not produced the API, they would’ve been pilloried for not doing anything.

    I wonder what their next meeting to discuss charitable projects will be like and whether Tom Loosemore should attend to explain why being proactive in the middle of a pandemic is such a bad idea and as you say, how they are exercising “unaccountable power” .

  • Huh.
    They made a framework, a scaffolding.
    They give it away to anyone that WANTS to use it.
    Whomever decides to use it can put whatever interface, or limitations on it that they want.
    Apple/Google maintain no connection or data feed to the governments that use it.
    Governments have the option of using it, or not, or using someone else’s system, or building their own as they see fit.

    Just HOW are they exercising “unaccountable power” over this again?

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