They say that special times require special means. Corona crisis is not an exception. A lot of questions appear because of the monitoring thanks to Corona App. Do European states follow their citizens and limit their privacy? We tried to find out.
Monitoring apps as a mean against Corona
One can hear now that apps tracking contacts hold promise in a fight with Corona because it’s possible to follow up contagions. Not only politicians but also scientists use this point in mass media. Here we can see some kind of unity. But there is no unity in the implementation and operation because there’s a question: In what way should a user be tracked? Can this app limit all your contacts? Is the installation optional or you have to install it?
A lot of states – a lot of opinions
A lot of European countries are thinking about their containment strategy and their opinions vary. That’s why it was necessary to develop a common decision for the whole of Europe. According to Reuters, the European Union should decide about Corona App to create measures which can fit all states. Let’s take a closer look at methods of monitoring apps.
Tracking thanks to data about the user’s location from the network provider
To handle the situation with the quarantine, some countries set a tracking thanks to network providers and targeted monitoring. Each network provider has some information about the user’s location because of establishing a connection by mobile devices. And it gives a great opportunity for monitoring.
Using additional data about the user’s location
As approximate information about the location isn’t enough some countries (for example Israel) use additional sources. Namely, it’s a bank transaction. The Czech Republic doesn’t use it often and asks users at least it’s okay to use their location data. But the situation in Bulgaria is different. Their authorities can just see all user’s data and use it to follow all movements.
Tracking in Corona App and contacts
Countries like Germany, Austria, Great Britain, Belgium or Norway let their citizens install this app optional (at least now). Their local governments follow the user’s contacts. These contacts are used instead of location data. Thanks to Bluetooth this app registers cases when the user was near someone else during at least 15 minutes and at least with 2-meter distance.
This data is saved on this app only for a certain period and on a mobile device. When the user has COVID-19 this information is added to the app and those who were in this user contacts receive the notification. Then they should isolate themselves to avoid incidence.
Extreme monitoring thanks to Corona App
There’s one outstanding example of using this app in Poland. There everyone who is in quarantine has to use it. The aim is to check whether people are isolated or not. Those people are required to take a selfie to show their location. The face recognition helps to catch trickers. If there’s no selfies the police come and fines such people. A little bit violent, isn’t it?
European Union wants a common decision or a law
Different countries have different opinions. Some of them find something like total monitoring and others don’t see the problem in the same way. That’s why the European Union tries to find one decision for all. There’s one more important question. People want to be sure that after the Corona crisis all this data will be completely deleted.
Corona App from scientists
Whereas there’s no common Corona App in the EU, one can see some efforts to create an adequate thing. Some scientists, researchers and businesses are working on Pepp-PT (Pan-European-Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing). They try to combine all laws which are connected with privacy protection from European countries to follow cross-border contacts. Neither the data from mobile devices nor the information about the location should be used: there’s Bluetooth only. It’s especially useful when we go somewhere one day.
Pepp-PT tries to protect our data. So Corona App has to renew exchanged codes not to follow each person’s movements. Besides, Pepp-PT isn’t connected with concerns like Google or Microsoft, whose servers are situated away from them. More than that, it’s open-source, which means that anyone can just check its code or light up. Also, the user should not inform contacts about sickness. Robert Koch Institute is fond of Pepp-PT and wants to use this concept.
Anyway countries of the EU agree that global monitoring is not a solution in the battle against Corona. If you don’t want to be followed then you should use a VPN. You’ll find our list of top 10 VPNs here.