The European Union has urged Apple to remove contact tracking apps from the App Store to curb the spread of coronaviruses that do not comply with appropriate security and privacy measures. Google has also been invited to do the same and, explains the European Commission, contact tracking apps don't have to be distributed at the cost of sacrificing citizens' rights.
Already in a previous communication, the Commission made it clear that it did not want to use proprietary technologies from Apple or Google. "Member States of the European Union have developed, with the support of the European Commission, a common EU-level toolkit for monitoring contacts from mobile and creating alarm applications to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The adoption of this toolkit is part of a common and coordinated approach aimed at allowing the gradual withdrawal of containment measures, presented last week in a Commission recommendation. "
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Member States, supported by the Commission, have studied digital solutions to deal with the crisis, which they assessed from the point of view of their effectiveness, security and protection of privacy and data. "Full compliance with EU rules and well coordinated," explains the Commission, "contact tracking applications can play an essential role at every stage of crisis management, especially when the time comes to gradually withdraw spacing measures social".
Again "They can help complete the current manual contact tracking and help block the virus transmission chain. The toolkit accompanied by specific data protection guidelines for mobile applications, published today and that developers must follow.
The guidelines that the creators of this type of app must follow are indicated as essential. Among the indications: fully comply with EU rules on data protection and privacy, the creation in close coordination and with the approval by public health authorities, the installation on a voluntary basis with data deleted when they are no longer necessary, do not take into account the geolocalization of people, be based on completely anonymous data (communicate to people if they have been in contact with other people affected by coronavirus but do not reveal their identity).
Furthermore, the various apps should be interoperable across the EU so that citizens are protected even when they cross borders. It is also recommended to take into account accepted epidemiological guidelines corresponding to best practices in cybersecurity and accessibility. The approach to future features, such as symptom monitoring, could be developed in later versions of the Developer Toolkit. The document prepared by the Commission mentions the APIs that Google and Apple are preparing, explaining that the Member States are awaiting clarification before ruling on it.
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