It goes without saying that access to good data is at the heart of making good decisions. Perhaps it comes as no surprise then that a whole host of apps to trace the progress of the COVID-19 pandemic have been released in recent weeks, generating a multitude of useful data for researchers and government agencies…
It goes without saying that access to good data is at the heart of making good decisions. Perhaps it comes as no surprise then that a whole host of apps to trace the progress of the COVID-19 pandemic have been released in recent weeks, generating a multitude of useful data for researchers and government agencies.
These apps have proven an effective tool for combatting the virus in countries like China and South Korea, but they do raise questions of data privacy and security.
Now, the EU is hoping to create a ‘toolbox’ of standards to help ensure that all the apps adhere to the same levels of data protection, as well as championing interoperability so they can be used across borders.
“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,” said a related document seen by Reuters.
At the end of last month, a number of major European operators agreed to share anonymised mobile data
with the EU in an effort to better predict the spread of the virus, but detractors called into question the security of that data in spite of assurances.
“Digital technologies, mobile applications and mobility data have enormous potential to help understand how the virus spreads and to respond effectively,” said Thierry Breton, commissioner for the EU’s internal market. “With this Recommendation, we put in motion a European coordinated approach for the use of such apps and data, without compromising on our EU privacy and data protection rules, and avoiding the fragmentation of the internal market. Europe is stronger when it acts united.”
The EU’s ‘toolbox’ is expected to be available from the 15th of April and will hopefully go some way towards quelling the public’s data security fears.
Also in the news: