Apple Responds to Senators Questioning Privacy of Covid-19 Tools

(Bloomberg) --

Apple Inc. responded to Democratic Senators who sent a letter to Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook with questions related to the privacy of the iPhone maker’s Covid-19 screening tools.

In a letter dated Friday, Apple said the tools “were built to protect the privacy and security of users’ data.” The company also answered questions related to data sharing, agreements with government agencies, and the accessibility of the tools.

The letter refers to screening tools launched in March that help users determine if they should quarantine or seek medical help, not Apple and Google’s new partnership for contact tracing.

Apple said it “drew upon its engineering and clinical resources to help develop a new Covid-19 website and Covid-19 app” at the request of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and outlined the privacy protections in its agreement with the agency. Apple said the tools, which are available as an app and on the web, aren’t subject to HIPAA guidelines and said it doesn’t collect any personal data from individuals.

It said data would never be sold to third-parties nor would it use the information for commercial purposes. The only data it collects are related to how often the tool has been used and if any online crashes occurred, Apple said. It also said the tools are accessible to those with disabilities.

Senators Bob Menendez, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Richard Blumenthal sent the original letter to Apple on April 3.

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