Apple, Google combining forces over COVID-19: What are these two really up to?

Last week Apple and Google jointly announced a Bluetooth platform for tracing contacts of people testing positive with COVID-19. The tech world has been buzzing ever since.

The cheerleaders see two of Big Tech’s biggest putting aside their competitive beefs for the betterment of public health during a raging pandemic. The decriers see a power grab by the already-powerful, one that could imperil people’s privacy.

But that concern may be just a red herring serving to distract attention from what the two actually might be up to.

Writing for Forbes.com, freelance reporter Federico Guerrini succinctly spells out a key plank of some close watchers’ skepticism.    

What’s really troubling, he writes, is the possibility Apple and Google “might use this solution as a Trojan horse to propose themselves, on an unprecedented scale, as the default partners for governments around the world willing to digitize access to healthcare services for their citizens.”

If that’s the case, Guerrini adds, the giants “are reframing the entire process in a way that’s beneficial for them and their whole Weltanschauung.”

While it’s true that the pair aren’t providing an app—their offering is an operating-level framework on which third parties can build solutions—“the mere fact that they control the playground has consequences that can hardly be overestimated.”

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