Big Tech teams up with White House to battle Covid-19 – and spy on us all

Considering how many Americans use Apple devices – almost 200 million, according to some of the most recent estimates – the app certainly seems like the ideal way for the authorities to identify and track everyone who might be displaying symptoms of the coronavirus.

There is no question that cell phone data can be, and is being, tracked. The video clip showing the dispersion of Spring Break-goers from Florida back across the US, which went viral on Thursday, is proof of that.

The question that some Americans are now beginning to ask is, “where does the information people put into the new Apple Covid-19 app go and what happens to it?”

To that, there is no clear answer. On the page promoting the app, Apple says it is “not collecting your answers from the screening tool,” but does collect “some information about how you use it,” ostensibly to improve the site, in standard tech-speak. “The information collected will not personally identify you,” Apple says – but that’s a moot point, since the phone ID does that.

“As always, the data is yours and your privacy is protected,” Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted. That’s a strong pledge, especially considering that the FBI had to hire Israeli hackers to access iPhones of terrorist suspects because Apple refused to hand over the keys to their encryption.