When it comes into effect, it offers extensive protection for app users …
These include a ban on mandatory use. Nobody can be forced to use an app, and those who choose to do so can later change their mind and have their data deleted.
Users only need to be informed that they have been suspended if a contact has received a positive diagnosis from a test. Some contact tracking apps notify contacts over the phone based on self-reported symptoms or a suspected diagnosis by a doctor. This is not allowed.
CNET reports that one of the law’s sponsors, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), said public health authorities must be ‘responsible’.
Public health must be responsible for any notification system so that we can protect and communicate people’s privacy when there is a warning that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
An easy way to ensure data protection when tracking contacts is to use the common Apple / Google API, which does all the data collection and comparison on the phone and does not collect location data or identifiable contact information. So far, however, acceptance has been limited. A number of European countries have adopted it, while others are going their own way.
Few in the U.S. are planning to use the API so far, some have declined, while most have not yet announced their intentions.
In the United States, the decision to support exposure notifications is made by each state’s health agency, rather than building a single contact tracking app. Alabama, South Carolina and North Dakota are among the first states to show interest in Apple and Google’s Exposure Notifications API to support COVID-19 contact tracking.