As reported by Reuters, France is currently developing its own version of a contract-tracing mobile app that should aid users in determining whether or not they have come into contact with somebody carrying the coronavirus.
The French government is reportedly working on a mobile app project called “StopCovid,” and it is possible that the tech used will be the same as the proximity detection via Bluetooth approach being proposed by the Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT) initiative launched about a week ago.
Contact tracing vs. coronavirus
Using a contract tracing app in the fight against COVID-19 is nothing new. As a matter of fact, Singapore has claimed that such an approach can yield results, and has even offered to share its tech to the rest of the world.
For France, it is looking to take full advantage of a similar technology in dealing with the pandemic.
The central idea is to provide an accessible means for the French populace (via a mobile app installed in their smartphone devices) to know if they’re at risk or not.
More importantly, the app can be used to track other infected patients faster, so that they can be treated or instructed to self-quarantine without delay, thus preventing the coronavirus from spreading further.
Concerns over privacy
The folks behind the “StopCovid” project have extra reason to tread more carefully in developing its contact tracing mobile app.
After all, French regulations explicitly ban any form of smartphone tracking, something that is a bit more relaxed in other countries like China, South Korea, or Taiwan.
As explained by Cedric O, the country’s junior tech minister, through an interview with Le Monde, the French mobile app would only leverage Bluetooth signals and not geolocation data. Furthermore, the Bluetooth data would be anonymous, and will only be stored temporarily.
Still, those assurances might not be enough for those who continue to harbor concerns about contact-tracing apps possibly intruding upon the mobile user’s privacy.
While it is true that the “StopCovid” project might have completely noble intentions, this same technology could be replicated by somebody else with far more sinister plans, or by oppressive governments wanting to spy on their citizens.
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