EU to adopt pan-European approach on mobile apps to fight coronavirus

Move comes as EU states roll out their own apps, prompting concern from privacy activists

The European Union will on Wednesday adopt a pan-European approach on the use of mobile applications to track the spread of the coronavirus, according to a European Commission document seen by Reuters.

The move came after several EU countries rolled out a hodgepodge of mobile apps, triggering criticism from some data privacy activists who worry that they may become permanent once the coronavirus crisis is over.

“A fragmented and uncoordinated approach risks hampering the effectiveness of measures aimed at combating the COVID-19 crisis, whilst also causing serious harm to the single market and to fundamental rights and freedoms,” the document said.

“It is therefore necessary to develop a common approach to the use of digital technologies and data in response to the current crisis.”

There will be a methodology to monitor and assess the effectiveness of the mobile apps, their interoperability and cross-border implications, and whether they comply with security, privacy and data protection rules.

Calling it a toolbox, the EU executive said the pan-European approach would include a common scheme for using anonymous, aggregated data to trace people who came into contact with those infected and to monitor those under quarantine.

To assuage privacy concerns, there will be a strict limit on the processing of personal data, which will be destroyed when the virus crisis is under control, the Commission paper said. – Reuters