#parent | #kids | Why Tech Giants Aren’t the Solution for Mass Contact Tracing

A screen from the German government’s contact-tracing “Corona-Warn-App.”
Photo: Getty Images

In late May, Apple and Google launched a program through which the companies provided technology to states so that they could build apps to allow COVID-19 contact tracing through residents’ phones. The announcement was met with acclaim: Contact tracing — the practice of asking patients who they’ve been in touch with in order to determine the virus’s spread — is an important tool in understanding and stopping the continued growth of the coronavirus. With the two tech giants pitching in, the process, in theory, could be made all the more accessible.

But the process has stalled. Skeptical of data breaches and corporate access to personal health information, Americans do not appear willing to use the technology in large enough numbers for it work. While tracing apps need an estimated 60 percent of the population participating to be effective, one study found that just 29 percent of Americans would consider using one. On the latest episode of the Pivot podcast, Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway discuss why tech-driven contact-tracing is unlikely to thrive in America.


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