Apple informs senators it’s devoted to personal privacy with its coronavirus tools


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Angela Lang/CNET
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Apple duplicated its personal privacy promises in a letter to United States senators, responding to concerns about a site and app it revealed last month to assist upgrade individuals about the coronavirus and help in self-screening signs.

In the letter dated Friday and sent out in reaction to a series of concerns senators sent out 2 weeks earlier, Apple detailed personal privacy securities it constructed into its site and associated app while dealing with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Health and Human Services Department. Bloomberg previously reported the letter.

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Among them, the company said it doesn’t require people to sign in to view its tools, and no user data is sent to Apple nor “any government organization.”

“Access to important information and guidance regarding individual health or the health of a loved one should not require individuals to compromise their privacy rights,” wrote Timothy Powderly, Apple’s senior director of government affairs. He also noted that although the company’s website is not subject to patient privacy laws, it would comply anyway.

“We apply the principle of data minimization to all of its consumer products and services, and our COVID-19 resources are no exception,” Powderly added.

Apple’s letter is just the latest example of how the iPhone maker is pushing privacy issues amid the coronavirus pandemic. In the past few days, the company’s also outlined a project it started with Google to use new tools within the company’s smartphone software to help warn people about when they’ve been in close contact with someone recently infected with the coronavirus. That suite of tools, which will begin being made available next month, are also designed to ensure people’s identities and data are protected, the two companies said. And when the crisis has ended, they’ve promised to shut down the tracking tools too.

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