Tech

EU agrees not to use location data in tracing apps

Neweurope On Thursday, the European Commission published guidance to ensure full data protection standards of consent-based Covid-19 tracing applications, ensuring that location data is not processed, unless the user opts-in.

The development of Covid-19 apps aims at assisting countries with lifting their lockdown measures through tracking and alerting people who have been in proximity for a certain duration to an infected person, in order to get tested or to self-isolate.

Their capacity to record contacts that a person may not notice or remember, the so-called creation of “memory maps” is considered to be one of their strong assets. The processing of individuals location data “is not necessary nor recommended for the purpose of contact tracing,” according to the toolbox issued on Wednesday.

<p>To be implemented, national apps have four preconditions; to be “voluntary, approved by the national health authority, privacy-preserving and personal data is securely encrypted, and dismantled as soon as no longer needed.” Once the pandemic is over, the conditions foresee that the app should be deactivated automatically and all remaining personal data and proximity data should be erased.</p> 
<p>As numerous national applications appear daily, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has called for a pan-European Covid-19 app. EDPS is monitoring the applications compliance with the Unions data protection rules (GDPR), as the move has sparked a debate over security and privacy concerns.</p> <p>“While we should be innovative and make the best use of technology in fighting the pandemic, we will not compromise on our values and privacy requirements,” Commissioner for Internal market, Thierry Breton said in a statement on Thursday.</p> <p>The Commission also unveiled on Wednesday a <a href="https://www.neweurope.eu/article/von-der-leyen-presents-roadmap-for-coronavirus-lockdown-exit-strategy/" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">roadmap for Coronavirus lockdown exit strategy</a> as several member states are taking their first steps in lifting lockdown measures, after having noted a steady decrease in the SARS-CoV-2 infections in their territories.</p> <p>On April 11, Apple and Google announced they will jointly<a href="https://www.neweurope.eu/article/apple-google-partner-on-covid-19-contact-tracing-technology/" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank"> create a contact-tracing system</a> for iOS and Android to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, whilst ensuring user privacy and security.</p> <p>“Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort, and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders,” Apple said in a statement.