Google’s Covid-19 exposure notification system goes live in India
Google’s Covid-19 exposure notification system is now available on select handsets in India. The feature appears to have gone live for Indian users with the most recent monthly Android update.
Note that it is not a separate application. The notification system, essentially an Application Programming Interface (API), is meant to work with other contact tracing applications.
India’s official Covid-19 contact tracing application “Aarogya Setu” does not use this API, for now.
In April this year, Google and Apple formed a rare alliance to develop the exposure notification system. The purpose of the API is to help the health authorities trace contacts of users infected or at risk of getting infected by the Covid-19. The technology uses Bluetooth Low Energy to detect phones in the proximity and exchange data.
Google and Apple have stressed that the API does not violate users’ privacy as the data shared is anonymous. This essentially means personally identifiable information is not exposed. Google and Apple have also barred the public health authority app from using your phone's location. To block tracking, your phone's random ID changes every 10-20 minutes.
“All of the Exposure Notification matchings happens on your device, which means only you and your app know if you report having COVID-19 or been exposed to someone who has reported having COVID-19. Your identity is never shared with other users, Apple, or Google,” according to Google’s support page.