Over the past weeks, the use of contact tracing apps as a method to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 has increased across Europe.
In this context, the European Commission presented an EU toolbox for the use of mobile applications for contact tracing and warning on 16 April.
The toolbox highlights the need of a European-wide tracing application and sets out series of requirements including voluntary installation and full compliance with EU data protection and privacy rules as well as the involvement of public health authorities during the development and implementation phases of the apps.
European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton welcomed the development of the toolbox highlighting that the use of contact tracing apps can be useful in the current period when Member States are working on exit strategies. However, he reminded that “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”.
Additionally, the European Commission published a guidance to ensure full data protection with elements needed for a trustful and accountable app such as strict limits of data storage and use of anonymous and impersonal data as well as respect of GDPR rules.
“Trust of Europeans will be key to success of the tracing mobile apps. Respecting the EU data protection rules will help ensure that our privacy and fundamental rights will be upheld and that the European approach will be transparent and proportional,” stated European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, following the presentation of the guidance.