July 25,2020– Apple pushed a new bombshell update to IPhone users this week that raises large questions about health laws and government tracking. The update includes an Apple platform for COVID-19 tracking apps to be installed on a users phone, and you do not have a chance to opt out or delete this new platform. Many IPhone users may still be unaware that the software even exists on their phone.
The version where it was first noticed was software version 13.5.1. It may have been embedded sooner, but users can find it now by opening their “Settings”, “Privacy”, and then opening “Health”. There, you will notice the “COVID-19 EXPOSURE LOGGING” feature that did not exist until recently. There were no major notices or announcements before this appeared on the IPhone, and it is not clear how Apple intends to use the new feature.
Inside Apple’s new “Exposure Logging”, you will find that you cannot turn the feature on without a partner app. It is unclear who will supply the partner app and how a 3rd party will be able to divulge personal health information that is typically confidential and protected by law. Some fear that the government will simply mandate a standard app in order to go to public places or hold a job. Other people interviewed worry that their health care providers are no longer keeping patients’ health information private during this time of fear. There is no clear evidence of what Apple intends to do with this new platform, but until an app is rolled out by consent, or government coercion, we may not know.
From the appearance of the new “”COVID-19 Exposure Logging” platform, it is designed with government tracking in mind. Someone will have to enforce the “social distancing” or “quarantines” if you are discovered to be infected. There is also an option for “Exposure Checks” which seems to imply that your phone will be notifying you of strangers’ “COVID status” when you are in their general area. This is alarming because complete strangers would now have access to your personal health information, and this may be a threat to your immediate safety or livelihood. Imagine someone’s IPhone alerting them that there is a positive COVID-19 test in a local restaurant, then a “witch hunt” ensues to figure out who the “sick” diner is to “remove them” during their meal out of primal fear.
Whether the new platform is benign, or it is the beginning of a much larger agenda, it seems that the software plans on collecting massive amounts of data. There is a feature where users can “Delete Exposure Logs” when they have tallied up too many contacts throughout their day. As always, the logical fear is that the data will still exist somewhere, even after it is deleted. In this case, who will be in charge of collecting and maintaining all of this data? How open will the app developers be about their security and methods? Can you ever be removed from their tracking log? Do you have any legal recourse if their app causes violent persecution or denial of basic services you need to live?
With politicians and public health officials alarming the public about a “second wave” of the pandemic that may be worse, how long will it be before the public is begging the government to enforce full cooperation with this type of platform? Then, if the government can remove your legal privacy when it comes to COVID-19, how long will it be before they can remove it for more benign illnesses like a cold, or just “undesirable” traits. As insane as that sounds, Facebook has already attempted to share users’ friend lists with credit agencies in 2008 to determine your worthiness for a bank loan.
The only thing more alarming than “COVID-19 EXPOSURE LOGGING” being fully embedded into your daily life is that no one seemed to notice. Since 2001, we have become more apathetic to giant tech companies infringing on our privacy. This created the market for “surveillance capitalism” where companies made more from selling your data than they did off of their actual product. Tech giants gave us services that we believed were free, but they were using the information they collected as the real currency. The only question with this new breach of trust and privacy is, who benefits? What is the business model of COVID tracking, and where will it bring an already fragmented society?
As always, God Bless and stay vigilant.