U.S. Senators Question Apple CEO Tim Cook About COVID-19 App Privacy
Four U.S. senators, Bob Menendez, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Richard Blumenthal, on Friday sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook expressing concern over "the safety and security of Americans' private health data" in regard to the recently released COVID-10 website and app, reports Bloomberg.
The senators questioned Cook about Apple's data-sharing practices and safeguards, and whether the COVID-19 app complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). They also want details on Apple's agreements with federal or state governments for the development of the app.
When announcing the app and the website, which Apple developed with the CDC, the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and FEMA, Apple said that any data users provide on the COVID-19 website or app is not shared with Apple, the CDC, or any other government agency, as specified on the COVID-19 website. What little information Apple does collect, such as how people use the site, is used for bug fixes.
Apple is not collecting your answers from the screening tool. To help improve the site, Apple collects some information about how you use it. The information collected will not personally identify you.
Apple also does not require users to sign in to use the app and the data is not associated with a user's Apple ID, nor does it ask for any personally identifiable information.
Consistent with Apple's strong dedication to user privacy, the COVID-19 app and website were built to keep all user data private and secure. The tools do not require a sign-in or association with a user's Apple ID, and users' individual responses will not be sent to Apple or any government organization.
Apple debuted the COVID-19 website and app on March 27. It serves as a screening tool where users can answer questions about symptoms, exposure risk, and more, to receive CDC recommendations on the next steps they should take, such as social distancing or obtaining a test.
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