During the last weekend there were lots of messages on social networks denouncing that Google in one of its latest updates installed a kind of application without prior notice or user consent, which works as a tracker of nearby cases of the CCP Virus.
Google responded to the accusations with an official statement to several media, where it confirmed the installation of a system of notifications to the exposure of the virus, which was “automatically distributed” without the consent of users. However, it pointed out to excuse itself that exposure notifications are enabled only if the user activates them.
In the statement, it also admitted that Silicon Valley developers worked in an interdisciplinary way with the authorities of the Public Health system of the state of Massachusetts, to create a more efficient system.
One of the posts explains how to check if your phone received the update:
“If you have an Android phone, go under Settings, then GOOGLE settings and it’s there. If you have an iPhone, go to settings, privacy, then health. I don’t think you really overstand what they’re trying to do here.”
Back in May 2020, Apple and Google had already released a joint statement explaining that they were developing an application programming interface (API) to help public health officials inform people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
“What we have created is not an application, but rather public health agencies will incorporate the API into their own applications that people install,” the statement said.
In other words, the API is a framework that allows apps developed by other agencies to run on your phone, which is what Google purports to make the statement explain.
If the statement is true, phone users decide whether they want to use the exposure notifications feature by turning it on in the settings and downloading a compatible app. In any case, many users doubt that the system really remains locked.
There is increasing pressure in all countries for citizens to download CCP Virus care apps and, in case of contracting the virus, notify in the app. If so, Google could identify that notification and trigger the alarm signal through the virus exposure notification system.
Users’ fears largely lie in allegations that Google tracks its users despite the ‘location sharing’ option being turned off using other apps or manipulating privacy settings.
In late May, internal company documents revealed by Business Insider explain that Google made it nearly impossible for users with Android on their cell phones to disable their location.
Jack Menzel, a former vice president who oversaw Google Maps, said the only way Google would not be able to find out a user’s home and work location is if that person intentionally misled Google by using other random addresses such as home and work.
The documents were requested by a judge prosecuting a lawsuit against Google brought by the Arizona attorney general that accuses the Silicon Valley giant of profiting from these less-than-transparent practices, which also violate consumer protection laws.