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EU Encourages Voluntary Tracing Apps, Stresses Privacy Safeguards (Communications Daily)

On Wednesday 15 April 2020, the European Commission said that one of the means leading to the relaxation of containment measures related to VIDOC-19 would be the use of applications that locate people infected with the virus to enable the population to avoid them. However, these applications will be required to comply with the privacy and data protection rules imposed by the EU.

According to Winston Maxwell, legal director at Télécom Paris and head of studies on digital technologies:

« There are two technological approaches. The first is to use GPS data to answer the question « Where are you? ». The other uses Bluetooth to ask « Who have you been in close contact with? « The choice of technology depends on the purpose. If the idea is to impose quarantine or containment on someone who has tested positive, GPS is the right approach. If the goal is for someone who has tested positive to be able to notify those with whom they have been in close contact over the past two weeks, Bluetooth is the best option. A key question is whether these applications should be used on a voluntary basis. France believes that a mandatory application would be a violation of privacy. Nevertheless, it can be made mandatory as long as European privacy legislation is respected. Voluntary use is preferable, but mandatory use of such applications could be possible if it is necessary and proportionate. »

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