Mobile applications to support contact tracing in the EU’s fight against COVID-19

Common EU Toolbox for Member States by eHealth Network: “Mobile apps have potential to bolster contact tracing strategies to contain and reverse the spread of COVID-19. EU Member States are converging towards effective app solutions that minimise the processing of personal data, and recognise that interoperability between these apps can support public health authorities and support the reopening of the EU’s internal borders.

This first iteration of a common EU toolbox, developed urgently and collaboratively by the e-Health Network with the support of the European Commission, provides a practical guide for Member States. The common approach aims to exploit the latest privacy-enhancing technological solutions that enable at-risk individuals to be contacted and, if necessarily, to be tested as quickly as possible, regardless of where she is and the app she is using. It explains the essential requirements for national apps, namely that they be:

  • voluntary;
  • approved by the national health authority;
  • privacy-preserving – personal data is securely encrypted; and
  • dismantled as soon as no longer needed.

The added value of these apps is that they can record contacts that a person may not notice or remember. These requirements on how to record contacts and notify individuals are anchored in accepted epidemiological guidance, and reflect best practice on cybersecurity, and accessibility. They cover how to prevent the appearance of potentially harmful unapproved apps, success criteria and collectively monitoring the effectiveness of the apps, and the outline of a communications strategy to engage with stakeholders and the people affected by these initiatives.

Work will continue urgently to develop further and implement the toolbox, as set out in the Commission Recommendation of 8 April, including addressing other types of apps and the use of mobility data for modelling to understand the spread of the disease and exit from the crisis….(More)”.