COVID-19 exposure notification logging

The COVID-19 exposure notification in iOS 13.5 informs you whether you may have contracted the coronavirus by coming into contact with someone who’s been diagnosed with COVID-19. This secure, private contact-tracing technology works in tandem with apps from public health authority developers that are installed on your device. If you’d rather opt-out, however, follow along with our step-by-step tutorial that teaches you how to disable the COVID-19 exposure notification at the system level to stop exposure logging and contact-tracing via Bluetooth.

COVID-19 exposure notification and logging

In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, Apple and its frenemy Google announced a rare partnership on new contact-tracing smartphone technology that’s aimed at fighting back COVID-19, a disease causes by the novel coronavirus that paralyzed much of the world in 2020.

The privacy-first solution, later renamed as exposure notification, relies on Bluetooth technology (rather than GPS location), as well as APIs implemented at the operating system level, to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus. For further technicalities regarding this solution, feel free to visit apple.com/covid19/contacttracing.

COVID-19 exposure notification logging

The entire system is completely opt-in

The APIs make it easy for public health authorities to release smartphone apps on the App Store and Google Play that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices. Both API-based apps and the aforementioned Bluetooth solution (don’t worry, the companies are encrypting the Bluetooth metadata) are meant to notify individuals of potential exposure.

Sample public health authority app onboarding

Here’s Apple’s description of the feature:

iPhone is using Bluetooth to securely share your random IDs with nearby devices and collect their IDs, which lets an app notify you if you may have been exposed to COVID-19. Apps you authorize can only notify you if you’re exposed to COVID-19.

The system uses five-minute intervals to record exposure time, with maximum reported exposure time topped out at 30 minutes. The API determines the number of days since the last exposure event, which should help individuals determine the necessary steps.

Sample public health authority app onboarding

If you don’t want apps created by public health authorities to notify you that you’ve come into contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, follow along with us as we explain how to disable the COVID-19 exposure notification on your iPhone and iPad.

How to disable COVID-19 exposure notification

Follow these steps to disable the COVID-19 exposure notification in iOS 13.5 or later:

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad with the iOS 13.5 software or newer.
  2. Choose Privacy from the root list.
  3. Tap Health.
  4. Select the option COVID-19 Exposure Logging.
  5. Toggle off the option Exposure Logging to disable the COVID-19 exposure notification.

Conversely, tap the toggle to turn the feature on.

COVID-19 exposure notification disabled

The toggle is turned off by default

Again, your device must be running the iOS 13.5 software update or newer for this toggle to appear in the first place. This is just a temporary solution — both Apple and Google have acknowledged that as soon as the pandemic ends, they will be shutting the system down.

Keep in mind that in case you do decide to enable exposure logging in your privacy settings, you’ll also need to explicitly enable the feature in your preferred public health authority app. People who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 can choose to share their own device’s random IDs with the authorized apps so their own iPhone can notify others anonymously.

Deleting your COVID-19 exposure log

You cannot turn on exposure logging without an authorized app that can send these notifications. Once enabled, your iPhone will exchange random IDs with other nearby devices using Bluetooth. Any collected random IDs are kept in an exposure log for fourteen days.

Here’s how to clear the exposure log on your device:

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad with the iOS 13.5 software or newer.
  2. Choose Privacy from the root list.
  3. Tap Health.
  4. Select the option COVID-19 Exposure Logging.
  5. Tap the button Delete Exposure Log near the screen bottom, then confirm the action.

You’ve now deleted the exposure log on this device.

COVID-19 exposure notification - delete exposure logs

Deleting your exposure log removes all of the random IDs

That’s all, folks!

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