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Has COVID-19 Contact Tracing App been Secretly Installed on your Smartphone by Google or Apple?

by Felix Omondi
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There is a lot of hearsays doing rounds on social media that the duo big tech companies – Google and Apple – have stealthily installed COVID-19 contact tracing system on people’s smartphone. Could it then be possible that right now, someone somewhere is logging where you go, who you interact with, and the routes you use?

One would be forgiven to think so since the two most popular mobile operating systems – Android and iOS – are made by these two companies. Although Android does have a lot of freedom to poke around and get to know the interior workings of the mobile OS. Apple’s iOS remains tightly locked up, and a very close-knit circle of Apple insider can access the mobile OS internal workings.

Speaking of Android; just because someone allows you free access to their home does not mean they have disclosed all available rooms. There could be some hidden rooms whose access is only granted to specific ‘insider’ people.

Where’s the said COVID-19 contact tracing app on my phone?

According to the rumor mills, when you look at the tool notification on your smartphone. You will see a screen prompting you to install the COVID-19 contact tracing app. If not that, then you will see a notification prompting you to finish setting up the app to make it active.

The truth of the matter is that although some people are indeed seeing the above-mentioned in the tool notification. It remains just that, a notification. You have to take decisive steps towards installing the app on your smartphone and giving it permission to start tracing your whereabouts.

So where did the Tool Notification come from if I didn’t install it?

Using the analogy of rental apartment flats to explain this point out. Your smartphone, though bought by you, to a great extent remains under the control of the OEMs and the mobile OS producer. What happened in this instance is that both Apple and Google pushed an update to their respective mobile OSs letting users know about the COVID-19 contact tracing application.

Image: Courtesy

It the users’ discretion on whether or not to install the app. If you tap on the notification, then you will initiate the process of downloading and installing the app on your smartphone. However, if you ignore it, the notification will remain just that; a notification.

Image: Courtesy

Apple and Google partnership in Fight against COVID

Apple and Google have joined forces to come up with a comprehensive mobile-based tracing system. The two took this path after the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global pandemic.

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Although the two maintained that what they have “built is actually not an app – rather public health agencies will incorporate the API into their won apps that people install. Our technology is designed to make these apps work better.”

So no, Google and Apple have not stealthily installed an app on your phone to secretly trace your whereabouts. Although the two have developed such a technology, it needs discreet user’s confirmation to install and start doing the tracing.

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