Sunday, September 25, 2022

Contact tracing in France: StopCovid app in the works

StopCovid app

When faced with a global pandemic, nations around the world have resorted to geo-tracking technology and contact tracing to help mitigate the spread of the virus. That is why the French government is giving their StopCovid app another shot.

The StopCovid app is a Bluetooth-based proximity-tracking app that simply informs the user if they have been within close range of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. That person must register that he has been tested positive into the app itself, at which point, those who came into contact with the infected person are then notified. However, the identity of everyone involved remains anonymous, and the data is deleted after 24 hours.

With the country still in lockdown, the French government needs to find a way to allow for necessary travel plans to go ahead safely. The top priority of most governments is to keep their economy running.

“In the fight against Covid-19, technology can help,” said French Junior Tech Minister, Cedric O in an interview with Le Monde newspaper. “Nothing will be decided without a broad debate.”

Unlike other countries, it is illegal to track individual smart phones under French privacy law. This means that registering the StopCovid app is purely voluntary, which, as we’ve discussed in previous articles, may diminish its effectiveness. However, making it voluntary will prevent privacy violation issues later.

“We shouldn’t start a mind-trip over how repressive an application it would be,” O said. “Our scenario is one of a voluntary tool that could be un-installed at any time. Nobody will have access to the list of contaminated people, and it’ll be impossible to know who contaminated who.”

No single solution will provide the answer to the problem but technology of this kind along with other measures will help contain the contagion.