Apple and Google launch contact tracking technology, 23 countries seek access


Authorities in 23 countries on five continents have sought to access contact tracking technology from Apple Inc and Google from Alphabet Inc, the companies announced Wednesday at the launch of the initial version of the system. Apple and Google technology will allow governments facing the new coronavirus to publish mobile applications in the coming days, which companies said will be able to reliably register users who maintain physical proximity for at least five minutes. A user who later becomes infected with the virus could use the application to automatically and anonymously notify their recent contacts.

Some governments have applauded the system, which could help them screen and isolate potentially infected individuals efficiently by consulting patients seeking to recall their recent interactions.Others, however, have been frustrated by rules set by Apple and Google that limit their ability to collect users’ locations, phone numbers, and other details.

Some of those authorities are developing applications using their own technology, which Apple and Google say will experience errors and drain the devices’ battery.Apple and Google rules prohibit authorities from asking residents to use the app. Applications that don’t use the technology have had limited adoption so far.