Scaremongering posts claim UK government “hacked” all iPhones this week
Numerous posts on social media have been spreading like wildfire today, claiming the UK government launched a “hack” on all iPhones in the country earlier this week to somehow inject what is made out to be spyware that is “always watching & always listening.”
The allegations, of course, are completely false, but that’s not stopping them from causing panic amongst some iPhone users. The rumor is based on the COVID-19 Exposure Logging toggle introduced with iOS 13.5 last month, which when enabled, exchanges random ID’s with other devices using Bluetooth for the purpose of coronavirus contact tracing.
Opening the Settings app on your iPhone, tapping Privacy and selecting Health reveals the new setting.
Sooo when everyone was having "phone disruptions" earlier this week, they were adding COVID-19 Trackers to our phones….
Despite the general consensus of the posts, which make out the feature was added without permission, the setting was actually added as part of an official iPhone software update in May, that stated prior to it being installed that it included an “Exposure Notification API to support COVID-19 contact tracing apps from public health authorities.”
The update does not track users as it is claimed and doesn’t feature any type of spyware.
For the Exposure Logging tool to work, users must manually turn it on and have the yet to be released official NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app installed on their device. When they do, the setting will allow your iPhone to anonymously notify other smartphone users who you have been in close contact with over the past 14 days if you test positive for COVID-19 and choose to privately share that information with the NHS through the official contact tracing app.
It is painted out that the setting monitors a user’s every movement, with information being reported and fed back to the government, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Don’t fall victim to the scaremongering.