To combat COVID-19, several tracing apps were made to keep track of individuals who are infected by the virus. There were several smart apps released in early 2020. They are mostly used to track all users who were infected with COVID-19 and the people they interacted with.
All these apps were used to identify positive infections, give advice on how to lessen transmission to others all while keeping identities confidential too.
Misleading posts on Facebook about tracing apps
Some Facebook posts in May 2020 claimed that these apps are collecting information from contacts. Mobile applications such as Healthy Together or ABTraceTogether were accused of gathering confidential data, as reported in Snopes.
However, these misleading posts are not telling the truth, rather they are just amplifying fears of being monitored online. Healthy Together was released in Utah in April and May 2020 to help trace COVID-19 positive individuals. They also find the nearest testing center in your area.
The use of Bluetooth technology allows more precise tracking, with GPS as well to check how fast the contagion might spread.
Downloading Healthy Together was recommended and on the 13th of May, there were already 45,000 downloads according to CNBC.
The app will determine how the data gained is used, but for users who are not comfortable with this, deletion is always an option. Even the GPS is scrubbed in 30 days and the user has ultimate control over the data of their smartphone.
For the app's use, officials respect the user's privacy. The ones with access to phone data are officials and some employees of the apps developers, but all for tracing individuals only, and the data are treated as confidential too.
Utah will use the data to combat the virus only and nothing more. GPS data gathered from users will be used to determine the transmission of the virus to support policies against the further spread of COVID-19.
For the contact list, it will be accessed by the Healthy Together app, then store all the phone contacts in the list. If anyone would want, the contacts in any mobile can be invited to try tracing app for better user experience according to WUSA9.
User-controlled features of contact list
All invitations sent via the app is by choice or opt-in, and anyone can be part of the Healthy Together and it is all by choice. Another is an invitation will not be collecting or tracking another device. Permission is given by the user for all functions.
Healthy together is not linked to FB, nor can invitations be sent via the Facebook app. This app will not trace a non-user and is totally by choice, since the users have control over the data.
Compared to Healthy Together, the app ABTraceTogether only needs a mobile number to warn if anyone is close to a positively infected individual. It is opt-in but doesn't connect the list or the FB address list, according to Global News.
Both of these apps, Healthy Together and ABTraceTogether, do not harvest data but are for tracking and notifying users only.