The European Commission has issued an important recommendation towards a common coordinated approach for the use of smartphone apps that fully respect EU data protection standards

  • The Covid-19 pandemics has triggered numerous public, private and non profit initiatives to develop and use digital innovative solutions to fight the spread of the virus . While digital services such as teleconsultation which were still very embryonary in many EU Member States have now become mainstream, the pandemics has also strongly accelerated the debate on the use of personal data for disease and population control in light of the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation.
  • The Commission initiative has led to the publication of specifications to ensure the effectiveness of mobile information, warning and tracing applications from a medical and technical point of view. The purpose is also to identify the measures needed to avoid the proliferation of incompatible applications and to support requirements for interoperability and promotion of common solutions. The framework provides guidance on the following aspects:
    • Governance mechanisms to be applied by public health authorities and in cooperation with the European Centre for Disease Control;
    • Identification of good practices and mechanisms for exchange of information on the functioning of the applications;
    • Sharing data with relevant epidemiological public bodies, including aggregated data to ECDC.

The main challenge here is to guarantee that the data collected by the State or the company is only limited to what is absolutely needed for the objectives pursued. The identity of individual people must be absolutely preserved and later re-identification must be made impossible. If the Bluetooth signals are being used, one must also prevent its hacking by third parties.

The “context broker”, one of the 10 key building blocks made available by the C(onnecting) E(urope)F(acility) to support the emergence of a European data driven ecosystem,  developed by FIWARE and supported by the European Commission, also finds here a somewhat unexpected and urgent implementation field.

To read in full the recommendation of the Commission, please click here

For more information, on digital initiatives taken in the healthcare sector to fight the Covid-19: