Today, the European Commission released a recommendation for a pan-European and coordinated approach for using smartphone apps and mobile data in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In strict compliance with EU data protection rules, the Commission envisions all Member States to develop a digital toolkit for managing the pandemic in its recommendation.
These instruments include the following aspects:
Apps for tracking contacts: Mobile smartphone applications could be used for tracing contacts and thus for more effective social distancing measures as well as for warning and prevention measures.
Medical and technical specifications should ensure the effectiveness of mobile information as well as measures to avoid a proliferation of applications incompatible with EU data protection standards.
Data from tracing apps will be shared with relevant epidemiological public bodies, such as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Modelling the virus spread: Anonymized and aggregated mobile location data could be used to analyze mobility patterns and thus the effectiveness of containment measures.
Moreover, this data will help to predict the spread of the virus and provide insights for developing exit strategies from the economic and social lockdown.
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, said: "Digital technologies, mobile applications and mobility data have enormous potential to help understand how the virus spreads and to respond effectively. With this Recommendation, we put in motion a European coordinated approach for the use of such apps and data, without compromising on our EU privacy and data protection rules, and avoiding the fragmentation of the internal market. Europe is stronger when it acts united."