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Contact-tracing reveals government dependence on Apple and Google

by Futures Centre, Jul 23
2 minutes read

Efforts by US-state North Dakota to create a contact tracing app to aid the state’s coronavirus recovery, reveals the true extent of Google and Apple’s influence over national decisions. 

These frustrations have been shared globally, with France, Canada and the UK expressing similar concerns over the technological limitations imposed by the corporate giants on tracing apps. It seems that traditional monitoring methods using GPS and Bluetooth might no longer be an effective option. 

So what?

The situation reveals an unusual reliance from the public service on the private sector in defining data protection regulations, and places tech firms such as Google and Apple as indispensable actors in the pandemic. 

The restriction of Bluetooth on apps by these two organisations, and pressure to conform to the vision held by Silicon Valley of ensuring no user information is sent to a centralised database, means scientists will struggle in their efforts to gather epidemiological data. This could impact national recovery efforts for COVID-19, unless clashes between the players are resolved.

Dependency on Big Tech seeps into most aspects of our lives, as schools and workplaces have turned increasingly to Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Twitter as forms of communication. Can we begin to contemplate and design a future without tech organisations? If not, what would it take to create a world where governments and tech companies coexist harmoniously ?

Signal spotted by: Jordan McKay

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