Apple and Google Announce Changes to Digital Contact Tracing System

September 1, 2020

Apple and Google today announced "Exposure Notification Express," an updated version of the companies' joint digital contact tracing technology. The revised system will allow public health agencies to conduct digital contact tracing without having to develop their own independent apps. In jurisdictions that have adopted the Apple-Google system, mobile users will now be automatically notified that the contact tracing tool is available, though the system will remain opt-in only. In response to Apple and Google's original proposal for a COVID-19 contact tracing system, EPIC told Congress that it is "essential that government agencies and private companies implement standards that safeguard privacy." For digital contact tracing techniques, EPIC recommended that "(1) participation should be lawful and voluntary; (2) there should be minimal collection of personally identifiable information; (3) the system should be robust, scalable, and provable; and (4) the system should only be operated during the pandemic emergency." EPIC has also obtained records from Utah and North Dakota that underscore the privacy risks of both states' COVID-19 contact tracing apps.

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