Contact tracing apps must preserve citizens’ privacy, MEPs say

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The Private Kit mobile app, which aims to help authorities with contact tracing efforts to curb the spread of a novel coronavirus, seen on a phone in this picture illustration taken April 9, 2020. REUTERS/Paresh Dave/Illustration/File Photo/File Photo

Contact tracing must be truly voluntary, non-discriminatory and transparent, MEPs said during a plenary debate on Thursday.

The MEPs discussed several measures which could help in managing the spread of coronavirus including social distancing, masks and testing as well as contact tracing apps.

Most of the MEPs highlighted that the safety of citizens’ personal data and privacy need to be guaranteed when it comes to the use of these apps. Most EU countries have already launched or intend to launch a mobile tracing app designed to track individuals who are infected or at risk of contracting the virus.

MEPs stressed that the use of contact tracing apps must be strictly limited to contact tracing and the data must be deleted as soon as the situation allows.

MEPs also emphasized the need for a coordinated approach in developing and using the apps to ensure their cross-border interoperability.

Commissioner Didier Reynders and Croatian State Secretary Nikolina Brnjac shared the MEPs’ views on the need to ensure that citizens can trust the safety of the apps. Reynders responded to MEPs’ concerns by highlighting that national authorities will work together with the EU data protection authorities to ensure that the tracing apps comply with EU privacy and data protection laws in place. He also stressed that the Commission strives to ensure a common approach between EU countries so that the apps are interoperable.