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Covid-19 Tracking App in Germany

Written By Monica Yelinyan

Germany already announced a tracking app for corona on 30th March. Coronavirus app will warn users if they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19. The app will not violate the rules on privacy. Would this app give back our freedom?

The app should act as follows: users' movements should be kept in the gate to see who they have come into contact with. If the app user tested positive for Covid-19, all other people they have been in contact with will receive a warning.

The idea for such an app was inspired by a similar digital app that Singapore used to reduce the number of infections.

The protection of data and privacy is very strict in Germany and the European Union, which is why the use of the app is voluntary and anonymous. It is also not programmed to log the location of the user, only the distance between the users.

The app works on Bluetooth, an open standard for wireless connections between devices at a short distance, if the user is with someone who has a phone with Bluetooth the app will see this as being in contact with that person. This would only be sent to the cloud and not the graphical location of the user. Data protection is therefore very important.

The creators of the app hope to be able to isolate possible cases of infections at an early stage. The app would only function properly when 60 percent of the population would use it.

The European Union is not lagging behind. Thierry Breton, European Commissioner, came up with the plan to map the spread of the coronavirus through mobile devices. One telecom company per country should then be used. This data will be removed after the crisis.

That plan met with resistance, because tracking on such a scale is contrary to the privacy law. Critical politicians are afraid that location data could be misused.

In a joint venture, 130 scientists and technicians from eight European countries come together to work on an app that can track corona patients. The app must comply with the European privacy law. As a result, they will look for an app that uses Bluetooth, but in an anonymous way, and use it to monitor the corona patient to see which other smartphones the infected patient's phone has been with. The countries that make up this group are Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Spain and Switzerland. Countries can apply to participate regardless of whether they are in Europe.

The group wants to create the technical basis on which countries can build their own app. The project is called Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT).

The coronavirus app from Germany is built on PEPPT-PT.

Other European countries also want such a tracing app. The plans are still under discussion.

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