Hillicon Valley: Apple, Google launch virus tracing system | Republican says panel should no longer use Zoom | Lawmakers introduce bill to expand telehealth

Hillicon Valley: Apple, Google launch virus tracing system | Republican says panel should no longer use Zoom | Lawmakers introduce bill to expand telehealth
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A TECH TEAM UP: Apple and Google have launched a new system for tracing the spread of the novel coronavirus by allowing users to share data via Bluetooth with government and health agencies.

The joint project announced Friday by two of Silicon Valley's largest companies would create a voluntary contact-tracing network using Bluetooth Low Energy transmissions.

According to the companies, the data about individuals one has interacted with would be kept on that person's phone and only used for contact tracing by public health officials.

Coronavirus notifications: The system would notify individuals if they have come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

Apple and Google plan to roll out a pair of application programming interfaces (APIs) in mid-May for health officials to use the tracing system in their apps.

Experts say that contact tracing has emerged as one of the most promising methods for containing the impact of COVID-19.

But there could be some problems: Privacy advocates have raised concerns about the tracing practice, saying such systems would allow for invasive digital surveillance.

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Read more here.

 

ZOOM 'BOMBING' HITS CONGRESS: Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus poses questions about school safety; Trump commutes Roger Stone sentence Nadler: Barr dealings with Berman came 'awfully close to bribery' MORE (Ohio), the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, called Friday for an end to using Zoom to conduct the panel's business remotely due to potential security concerns.

Jordan wrote in a letter to Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyDemocrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence New York candidates left on hold as primary results trickle in MORE (D-N.Y.) that the Zoom video conferencing software, which has become popular for teleworking and virtual social gatherings during the pandemic, did not appear to meet necessary security standards.

Congressional briefing disrupted: Jordan claimed that a recent briefing on women's rights in Afghanistan was repeatedly “Zoom-bombed,” a term for hackers or other uninvited individuals disrupting meetings on the platform. He said in the letter that "the impact of hacking on malware on member and staff devices is still being determined."

A House GOP aide told The Hill that "unauthorized callers from unknown entities tried no fewer than three times to infiltrate a meeting meant only for members of Congress and their staff, which resulted in significant interruption and delay.”

Democrats push back: Despite Jordan's claim, Democrats denied there were any security disruptions for the committee either during the Afghanistan briefing or another Zoom meeting with the Postmaster General. An aide said there had only been a miscommunication in which the moderator was not informed about some individuals who were invited to the first briefing.

“Rep. Jordan’s office was consulted directly and repeatedly about using Zoom and never raised any concerns, so it’s unfortunate that he is now putting out inaccurate information in this public letter. Had his office consulted with us first, we could have clarified their misunderstandings and provided more information about the steps the committee has already taken to address any potential issues," Maloney said in a statement.

Read more here.

 

PROTECTING THE KIDS: Singapore will ban teachers' use of Zoom, citing "very serious incidents" that have occurred on the video conferencing platform that have cast doubt on its security.

The education ministry highlighted instances of indecency and misuse by intruders disrupting online lessons, Reuters reported.

Incidents were reported by local Singapore media sources, including obscene images and vulgar comments made during a class lesson with teenage girls present.

Not the first to ban Zoom: Throughout the world, private companies like Google and SpaceX, as well as federal governments, have suspended the use of Zoom, all describing similar security breaches and flaws.

"These are very serious incidents. MOE (Ministry of Education) is currently investigating both breaches and will lodge a police report if warranted," said Aaron Loh of the Singapore's ministry educational technology division.

"As a precautionary measure, our teachers will suspend their use of Zoom until these security issues are ironed out," Loh added.

The government of Singapore has also been using the app for video conferencing.

Read more here.

 

GIVING TELEHEALTH A BOOST: Reps. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooDemocrats fear US already lost COVID-19 battle Why drug costs for older Americans should be capped in pandemic's wake Senate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse MORE (D-Calif.) and Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungHillicon Valley: Apple, Google launch virus tracing system | Republican says panel should no longer use Zoom | Lawmakers introduce bill to expand telehealth House lawmakers introduce bipartisan bill to expand telehealth services Campaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis MORE (R-Alaska) introduced legislation Friday to boost telehealth services amid the coronavirus pandemic.  

The Healthcare Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act would infuse $2 billion into the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rural health care program to expand remote treatment options and ensure high quality internet connection at health care facilities.

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Health care adapts to coronavirus: Telehealth services help doctors work with patients diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, without putting themselves at risk.

It also helps providers care for high-risk patients who might contract the disease if forced to leave their homes to visit doctors.

“The coronavirus has only increased the need for high-quality and reliable internet connectivity as healthcare is increasingly delivered through telehealth and healthcare professionals depend on broadband for every aspect of their operations," Eshoo said in a statement.

"The Healthcare Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act takes crucially needed steps to ensure that healthcare providers in Alaska and across the country have the internet access they need to keep our communities safe," Young added.

The FCC's Healthcare Connect Fund Program currently subsidizes 65 percent of the cost of broadband for eligible public and nonprofit rural health care facilities, while the new legislation would boost the subsidy rate to 85 percent. It would also streamline some administrative requirements to receiving the subsidies.

Read more about the new legislation here.

 

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RNC REVS UP: President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pitches Goya Foods products on Twitter Sessions defends recusal: 'I leave elected office with my integrity intact' Former White House physician Ronny Jackson wins Texas runoff MORE’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) have reached 17 million voters in less than a month since they’ve launched new digital efforts amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has halted in-person campaigning.

Trump Victory, a joint effort between the campaign and the RNC, said it had called 17 million people and recruited more than 276,000 new volunteers since adjusting to an “all-virtual campaign” on March 13.

“The Trump Campaign has made a seamless transition to virtual campaigning in accordance with coronavirus safety protocols. While President Trump is fighting the coronavirus, the campaign and RNC are able to reach more voters than ever to ensure that all Americans know about the President’s leadership and determination in the face of this crisis," said Brad ParscaleBradley (Brad) James ParscaleMORE, Trump’s campaign manager.

Trump Victory’s digital efforts are fueled by its “Trump Talk” tool, which allows the group to host trainings and other events. 

The campaign said it is on track to surpass its voter contact numbers from the 2016 and 2018 election cycles.

Read more about the campaign efforts here.

 

TESTING, TESTING: Amazon is developing a lab to test all of its workers for the coronavirus.

The announcement comes as employees in at least 64 of its warehouses have tested positive for the disease as of Thursday.

Amazon is developing a diagnostic test to determine whether a person has the virus, as opposed to a blood test that could detect antibodies made by the immune system when a person is exposed. 

The company is one that is still able to operate during the pandemic, and with everything from books to toilet paper in high demand, Amazon has increased hiring in the past month. 

“We are not sure how far we will get in the relevant timeframe, but we think it’s worth trying, and we stand ready to share anything we learn with others,” the company wrote in a blog post.

The company said aggressive testing is the most effective way to stem the spread of the disease both in the company and around the country. 

“Until we have an effective vaccine available in billions of doses, high-volume testing capacity would be of great help, but getting that done will take collective action by NGOs, companies, and governments,” the company added.

Read more about the labs here.

 

Lighter click: Actually sports are better now

An op-ed to chew on: News media challenged to meet demands of COVID-19 story

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Burning Cell Towers, Out of Baseless Fear They Spread the Virus (New York Times / Adam Satariano and Davey Alba)

The ancient computers in the Boeing 737 Max are holding up a fix (Verge / Darryl Campbell)

We Need to Stop Trying to Replicate the Life We Had (The Atlantic / Ashley Fetters)

Big tech is more essential than ever. That won't stop antitrust hawks. (Protocol / Emily Birnbaum)