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Utah to disable location tracking in 'Healthy Together' COVID-19 app

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Posted at 12:38 PM, Jul 09, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — The State of Utah will disable the GPS-based location tracking feature of its "Healthy Together" smartphone app, which the state is using as part of its COVID-19 pandemic response.

The app helps users assess their symptoms, find COVID-19 testing centers, view test results and learn what to do if infected with COVID-19.

"Users will not have the option to turn on GPS or opt-in to share their location information when they test positive. As of yesterday we stopped saving location information and have deleted all past location data for all users," according to a representative for Archetype, a communications agency that represents the app's developer.

Until Thursday, the app also collected location data—with users' permission—to help public health officials get "a faster and more accurate picture of where and how the virus is spreading in our community a faster and more accurate picture of where and how the virus is spreading in our community."

Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist, said the GPS location tracking feature was not popular and, in an effort to increase the number of people using the app, the feature will be turned off.

The app continues to use Bluetooth to determine whether or not two people's phones have been near each other long enough for COVID-19 to have been potentially spread between the two people.

"Bluetooth is inherently more private because the location of where the exposure occurred is not known," the Archetype representative said in an email to FOX 13.