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Smartphone Apps May Help Track Coronavirus Hot Spots, But Could Cost Us Our Privacy

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Countries like South Korea have leveraged technology to track the spread of coronavirus, but similar efforts in the U.S. could be a privacy risk.

Tech giants and rivals Google and Apple are working together to create a smartphone app to help track coronavirus, but even if they build it, will the people come?

The contact-tracing app would use Bluetooth technology to help people know if they've been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

"Technology can actually help us get back to normal life," Techsesh cofounder Jessica Naziri said.

Similar tracking apps have helped people in South Korea avoid coronavirus hot spots.

UK On Lockdown Due To Coronavirus Pandemic
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 26: A selection of mobile apps relating to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic are seen on a tablet screen on March 26, 2020 in London, England. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 20,000 lives and infecting hundreds of thousands more. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The proposed app would require people to opt in, and privacy and security experts are concerned about giving away individual locations, information, and possibly, their rights to not be under constant surveillance.

"How do we know if eventually this will become mandatory, you know, once more people use it and it's actually effective, and policy makers rely on this to decide, for example, if you can leave your house or go back to work," Naziri said.

Apple and Google say the data will be anonymous and the goal would be to make tracking coronavirus as easy as possible for public health officials.

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