Privacy is the hot issue with Covid contact tracing apps in the EU

European responses vary depending on whether a centralised or decentralised contact tracing app is being deployed. By Laura Linkomies.

While Google and Apple say that the software has already been provided to 22 countries, and the apps are expected to work flawlessly with apps built by different countries using the same Application Programming Interface (API), several countries, such as the UK, are not using it. A uniform tracing app would be ideal in facilitating cross-border travel, but it is now clear that countries are taking a slightly different approach.

Even if a pan-European approach would be desirable, the EU can only make recommendations as it does not have competence in the field of health.

Nevertheless, the Presidents of the European Commission and the European Council swiftly issued a Joint European Roadmap towards lifting COVID-19 containment measures. The measures proposed also comment on the collection and use of data. Following that, the EU Commission issued guidance on how these apps should be designed and implemented to respect data protection requirements(1). It stressed that DPAs “should be fully involved and consulted in the context of the development of the app and they should keep its deployment under review.”

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