The EU member states have jointly developed a tool kit for the use of mobile apps during the coronavirus pandemic, in order to better understand contacts of infected people and to warn potentially endangered people. The instruments, which were designed in a hurry within a week, outline the basic requirements for digital applications for contact tracing, especially with regard to data protection and IT security.
Concept Has To Reflect Best Practices In Cybersecurity
The EU concept also provides that tracing applications should be introduced and approved by health authorities. They would have to be installed voluntarily and deactivated again as soon as they are no longer necessary. The basis should be the latest technological solutions for the protection of privacy and usually a Bluetooth based technology that did not allow users to be located. The apps would have to be based on anonymized data and be interoperable across Europe. This is the only way to protect citizens even when crossing borders. The solutions should also be anchored in recognized epidemiological guidelines, reflect best practices in cybersecurity and be effective.
Voluntarily Usable Mobile Apps
At the same time, the government institution in Belgium has published a comparable guideline on data protection for other apps that are intended to help keep the pandemic at bay. This involves voluntarily usable mobile apps with which authorities can provide information about the risk of infection or send general warning messages. The Commission is also considering online questionnaires for self-diagnosis for patients in quarantine. Users should have full control over their personal data. These should only be processed and stored to a limited extent.
In general, there are doubts as to whether the digital method is effective at all and how long it remains with voluntary use. Health authorities should now evaluate the effectiveness of the apps at the national level until the end of April.