COVID-19 News: DoJ Fraud Arrest, Apple and Google Collab on Tracing Tech

Here’s an overview of some of the latest COVID-19 coronavirus developments on the government and tech fronts:

DoJ Arrests Woman For Selling Fake COVID-19 Products

The Department of Justice (DoJ) announced April 9 that it has arrested a Georgia resident for selling illegal products that she claimed would protect against viruses. The woman, Rong Sun, made her first appearance in court on charges of illegally importing and selling Toamit Virus Shut Out, an unregistered pesticide, on eBay.

“The defendant took advantage of the current worldwide crisis to sell an illegal product with the claim that it protects individuals from viruses,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak of the Northern District of Georgia. “We will take quick action through the Georgia COVID-19 Task Force to put a stop to criminals preying on the public with coronavirus-related fraud schemes.”

Apple, Google Launch COVID-19 Contact Tracing Tech

In a move to slow the spread of COVID-19, Apple and Google announced today that they have partnered on a new contact tracing technology. The new technology uses Bluetooth to identify who infected individuals may have interacted with. In a statement, the two tech leaders said user privacy and security are “central to the design.”

Apple and Google said their “comprehensive solution” includes “application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing.” The companies said they plan to implement the solution in two steps. In May, Apple and Google will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. The apps will be available for public download. After May, Apple and Google said they will “work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms.” They said that this step of the solution is “more robust” than an API and will allow more individuals to participate if they choose to opt-in.

“Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort, and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders,” the companies said in a joint statement. “We will openly publish information about our work for others to analyze.”

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