In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of the Indiana Attorney General (OAG) has joined a coalition of 38 other attorneys general in calling for Google and Apple to ensure all contact tracing and exposure notification applications related to COVID-19 adequately protect consumers’ personal information.
Specifically, the coalition asked Google and Apple to guarantee that such applications, when available to consumers, are affiliated with a public health authority and are removed from Google Play and Apple’s App Store once public health authorities no longer need them.
In a letter sent today to the CEOs of Apple and Google, the OAG and the attorneys general acknowledge that while digital contact tracing and exposure notification tools are valuable in understanding the spread of COVID-19 and assisting public health authorities, these same technologies pose a risk to consumers’ privacy.
The coalition expressed concern regarding contact tracing and exposure notification applications available to consumers in Google Play and the App Store, particularly the “free” applications that utilize GPS tracking, offer in-app purchases and are not affiliated with any public health authority or legitimate research institution.
To protect consumers without interfering with public health efforts to monitor and address the spread of COVID-19, the letter asks Google and Apple to:
- Verify that every application labeled or marketed as related to contact tracing, COVID-19 contact tracing, or coronavirus contact tracing or exposure notification is affiliated with a municipal, county, state or federal public health authority, or a hospital or university in the U.S. that is working with such public health authorities;
- Remove any application that cannot be verified as affiliated with one of the entities identified above; and
- Pledge to remove all COVID-19/coronavirus-related exposure notification and contact tracing applications from Google Play and the App Store once the COVID-19 national emergency ends. Additionally, the letters asked Google and Apple to provide written confirmation to their offices once the apps have been removed or an explanation why removal of a particular app or apps would impair the public health authorities affiliated with each app.
“Implementing these limited measures could help protect the personally identifiable information and sensitive health data of millions of consumers during this crisis,” the letter states.
More than 40,000 Hoosiers have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 355,000 have been tested, according to data from the Indiana State Department of Health. More than 2,200 Hoosiers have died due to the virus. Visit coronavirus.in.govfor up-to-date information about COVID-19 in Indiana.