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Apple-Google partnership for COVID-ID solution is a ‘watershed moment for data access’

On April 10, Apple and Google announced a joint effort to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of COVID-19. Lux Research Associate Danielle Bradnan calls the endeavor a “watershed moment for data access.”

Here’s her take: “Under the guise of a (me-too) contact tracing app for COVID-19, this partnership will change the consumer relationship with personal healthcare data. The first proposed API [application programming interface] rollout will allow both tech giants to access EHRs that were previously siloed via partnerships, giving them access to an enormous volume of development data. The second rollout, the tracing app itself, will set a precedent for individuals to use their data to achieve a meaningful personal goal – ultimately planting a flag on the idea that healthcare data belongs to the consumer. This partnership is a watershed moment for data access and will set a precedent for determining what privacy and healthcare data ownership means in the modern digital health landscape.”

Lux Research  is a provider of tech-enabled research and advisory solutions. The company says it “combines technical expertise and business insights with a proprietary intelligence platform, using advanced analytics and data science to surface true leading indicators.”

Apple and Google will be launching a solution that includes APIs and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing. Given the urgent need, the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy.

First, in May, both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores. Second, in the coming months, Apple and Google will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms. 

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.