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Contact tracing: US CDC gives 'preferred criteria' to Apple-Google exposure notification tech

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a new document that covers ‘preferred criteria for digital contact tracing apps like the one launched by Apple and Google.

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New Delhi Published on: May 02, 2020 16:33 IST
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Apple and Google this week released the first version of their exposure notification.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a new document that covers ‘preferred criteria for digital contact tracing apps like the one launched by Apple and Google. The CDC paper outlines key features public health organisations must look for in a contact tracing or ‘exposure notification' platforms, with the recommendations closely following methodology implemented in Apple and Google's tedchnology.

According to CNBC, the CDC said that the minimum criteria for contact notification through apps include manual notices, which suggests a centralized system. "But it also says that a preferred system under its criteria includes anonymous, automated notifications, like those provided by decentralized systems".

In the paper, the CDC detailed guidance on "minimum" and "preferred" criteria to be implemented in contact tracing apps and platforms. In addition to anonymous reporting and notifications, preferred tools can be configured for real-time synchronization of data with public health authorities, support data export when opt-in consent is received, provide automated reminders to exposed contacts and allow users the ability to delete or revoke consent at any time.

"Further, the CDC recommends an open source architecture with offline data entry and cross-platform compatibility, much like Apple and Google's project," reports AppleInsider. A key aspect of the Apple-Google solution is decentralization, with users able to store gathered contact information — anonymized Bluetooth identifiers — on their phones.

Some countries, like the UK, France and Norway, are pushing for a centralized network that stores user information on a server maintained by government authorities. The UK has decided not to use the framework proposed by tech giants Apple and Google for its NHS coronavirus contact tracing app.

NHSX, the digital arm of the country's health organisation, is creating a centralised app. The framework proposed by Apple and Google is a decentralised one, meaning that the tracking information will not be stored in a central server.

Apple and Google this week released the first version of their exposure notification (earlier called contact tracing) Application Programming Interface (API) to select developers associated with public health authorities (PHAs) around the world.

Aimed at helping developers begin testing in anticipation of the API's release in mid-May, another goal of the release is to encourage feedback that will help improve the various features, the tech giants said in a statement.

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