Dutch privacy watchdog says coronavirus app still needs work

Photo: DutchNews.nl
Photo: DutchNews.nl

Dutch privacy watchdog AP has told the health ministry not to press ahead yet with its coronavirus tracking app, because various questions still remain about security and personal data controls.

The AP says privacy has not, so far, been sufficiently guaranteed even though this has been central to the design and functionality. In particular, no clear agreements have been reached with Google and Apple about reprocessing data gleaned via the app.

Nor is it clear who will be responsible for the app’s server, now that the tax office has withdrawn, the AP said.

‘The app is not just what you see on your screen,’ said AP chairman Aleid Wolfsen. ‘It is also Apple and Google technology, and the servers where your information is sent. The app is part of a system and all other parts of that system should deal properly with privacy as well.’

Use of the app should also be regulated in law, Wolfsen said, and such legislation should include the right to choose whether or not to use the app. ‘This would mean that you could not be refused entry to a bar if you don’t have the app on your phone,’ Wolfsen said. ‘It would also mean your employer could not force you to use it.’

The AP sent its recommendations to the health ministry on August 6 and made them public on Monday, the day the app roll-out started.

The app has already been downloaded over 430,000 times.

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