Apr 10, 2020

Ashkan Soltani on Apple and Google Teaming Up Against the Coronavirus

From The New York Times

Apple and Google Team Up to ‘Contact Trace’ the Coronavirus

By Jack Nicas and Daisuke Wakabayashi

In one of the most far-ranging attempts to halt the spread of the coronavirus, Apple and Google said they were building software into smartphones that would tell people if they were recently in contact with someone who was infected with it.

The technology giants said they were teaming up to release the tool within several months, building it into the operating systems of the billions of iPhones and Android devices around the world. That would enable the smartphones to constantly log other devices they come near, enabling what is known as “contact tracing” of the disease. People would opt in to use the tool and voluntarily report if they became infected...

Ashkan Soltani, an independent cybersecurity researcher, cautioned that surveillance tools that start as voluntary often become required through public policy decisions. China, for instance, has introduced a color-coded coronavirus surveillance app that automatically decides whether someone must stay at home or may go outside and use public transportation.

“The danger is, as you roll out these voluntary solutions and they gain adoption, it’s more likely that they are going to become compulsory,” said Mr. Soltani, a former chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission.


Ashkan Soltani is a MIMS alumnus (2009), and an independent researcher and technologist specializing in privacy, security, and behavioral economics. 

Last updated:

June 12, 2020