Data Protection is a Priority for Contact Tracing Apps

Data Protection is a Priority for Contact Tracing Apps

The success of COVID-19 contact-tracing apps lays in ensuring consumers could trust their data would be protected. Andrea Jelinek, European Data Protection Board (EDPB) in an interview with GSMA said that this could only be achieved if transparency about how information would be used was prioritised.

Jelinek said it was crucial apps collect only the information essential to deliver meaningful insights to healthcare leaders to fight the spread of the virus, and to assure consumers this was the only purpose their information would be used for. “Transparency is one of the most important issues” Jelinek said, noting if people can’t see what’s going on they won’t download an app. She explained the EDPB had not regulated around whether apps should be centralised or decentralised, though the latter approach is more in line with the data minimisation principle around anonymity of people with a positive diagnosis.

Jelinek urged developers to adhere to guidelines to ensure contact-tracing apps are effective in stemming the virus. She highlighted a number of safeguards proposed by the European Commission to ensure data privacy for contract-tracing apps, stressing they must be strictly voluntary and contain clauses to ensure data is deleted when lockdown measures end. The EDPB chair added another key element in building consumer trust lies in emphasising contact-tracing apps don’t need geo-location data, with Bluetooth more than capable of delivering on their goals.

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