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  Technology   In Other news  05 May 2020  Location tracking not allowed on apps using Google, Apple APIs but indie app Aarogya Setu does

Location tracking not allowed on apps using Google, Apple APIs but indie app Aarogya Setu does

PTI
Published : May 5, 2020, 8:32 pm IST
Updated : May 5, 2020, 8:32 pm IST

Aarogya Setu, which runs on its own Application Program Interface or API, is not bound by international privacy protection norms

People wear face masks as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus as they use a phone app to scan a code required to prove their health and travel status before being allowed to enter a shopping mall in Beijing. The debate on privacy protection while using such apps is especially urgent in Europe, where academics and civil liberties activists are pushing for solutions that protect personal data. Eastern nations are less likely to adhere to privacy protection norms followed in the West. (Photo | AFP)
 People wear face masks as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus as they use a phone app to scan a code required to prove their health and travel status before being allowed to enter a shopping mall in Beijing. The debate on privacy protection while using such apps is especially urgent in Europe, where academics and civil liberties activists are pushing for solutions that protect personal data. Eastern nations are less likely to adhere to privacy protection norms followed in the West. (Photo | AFP)

New Delhi: Apple and Google will not allow location tracking in apps that use the API (needed to make apps) being jointly built by the two tech giants to help health agencies reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

However, the development is unlikely to have an impact on apps like Aarogya Setu.

 

Last month, Apple and Google had said they will launch a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing.

Application program interface or API is a set of functions and procedures used for building software and apps.

According to sources, the location history restriction would apply only for apps that want to use this specific Google-Apple APIs, and will not impact any existing apps that have their own APIs for contact tracing.

This means the development is unlikely to have an impact on Aarogya Setu, given that it uses its own APIs. Indian government's mobile app Aarogya Setu, developed for tracking coronavirus patients, has recorded about nine crore downloads. The app alerts people if any person in their vicinity has tested positive for COVID-19.

 

Apple and Google, on Monday, published the COVID-19 Exposure Notification Terms of Service and policies to ensure transparency about how the API will work, and to help developers understand the criteria to use the API.

To put it simply, they have spelt out the terms and conditions for developers for using the API.

According to the policies, apps made using the said API must be created by or for a government public health authority, and can only be used for efforts on COVID-19 response. Also, the apps can collect limited necessary data and can only use that information for COVID-19 response efforts.

All other uses of data, including targeting advertising, is not permitted. Also, the apps are not allowed to seek permission to access location services.

 

Tags: coronavirus app, covid-19, google, apple, aarogya setu, location tracking