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Sen. Maria Cantwell. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senators are preparing today to introduce bipartisan legislation that would require commercial contact-tracing and exposure notification apps to only be deployed in collaboration with public health authorities.

Why it matters: Lawmakers are trying to put privacy safeguards in place as health officials look to use tech — including a Bluetooth-based system from Apple and Google — to help Americans learn if they've come into contact with someone infected with the coronavirus.

Details: The "Exposure Notification Privacy Act" is sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee ranking member Maria Cantwell and Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy. Per Cantwell's office, in addition to barring the private sector from going it alone with apps not sanctioned by public health authorities, the bill would:

  • Ensure that the use of coronavirus contact tracing apps is voluntary and that they get opt-in consent before collecting information from consumers.
  • Prohibit any commercial use of data gathered through such tools, and limit the collection and use to only what is necessary for the system.
  • Allow users to delete their data.
  • Require that exposure notification systems only accept authorized medical diagnoses.

Big picture: This is one of several bills aimed at protecting privacy in contact-tracing apps. House and Senate Democrats teamed up on one in May aimed at coronavirus and future outbreaks, while Senate Commerce Chair Roger Wicker led Republicans in a more narrowly tailored bill.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to remove inaccurate information provided to Axios. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is not a cosponsor of the legislation, as originally stated.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 16, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. surpassed 8 million coronavirus cases on Friday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: Coronavirus infections jumped by almost 17% over the past week as the number of new cases across the country increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C., according to a seven-day average tracked by Axios.

2021 economy boomed at fastest rate in 37 years

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

The U.S. economy surged ahead with a 6.9% annual growth rate in the final months of 2021 and achieved the strongest growth over an entire calendar year since 1984.

Driving the news: New GDP numbers from the Commerce Department show a remarkable acceleration in economic activity, much faster than the 5.3% growth rate analysts expected.

The Fed isn't the only problem investors are worried about

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Federal Reserve will be raising rates, just as the economy is slowing. The markets hate that.

Why it matters: The ugly start to the stock trading year doesn't just reflect Fed-induced agita — investors are also worried about a growth slowdown.