Contact tracing applications seem to be becoming the new turning point in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, also in relation to a conscious long-term strategy.

The time is ripe for an Italian app, if not even a European one (at the behest of French President Emmanuel Macron), to track contacts.

Monday, March 23, in fact, should start the official call by the Italian government and the Institute of Health, addressed to the national software houses for the immediate creation of a contact tracing app.

Contact tracing, tracking of contacts, is considered useful in the immediate, in full pandemic soil, but also in the successive stages of decline of the curve, that is those in which the viral diffusion diminishes but it is always necessary not to lose control of what happens in order to

The monitoring process must take place in three stages: identification of the person in contact with the infected, identification of his/her movements and interactions, maintenance of control.

For example, in Singapore, as reported in the TraceTogether app, the TraceTogether app was used to track user contacts and allow authorities to identify those who have been exposed to coronary virus infected people and to try to curb the spread of the disease.

Contact tracing in action

Lupin records the signal exchange via Bluetooth between phones and detects those in proximity within two meters.

The data is stored, encrypted, on the device via the l’app, and transmitted by the user to the health authorities.

In Singapore, it is noted, contact tracing is a component of a set of initiatives, ranging from police investigators to security cameras to track suspected virus carriers.

The use of technology to track movements with aggregated data that is not attributable to individual users is not excluded by the privacy authorities, provided that they respect the legal limits.

Gianni Rezza, head of the infectious diseases department of the Institute of Health, always all’Agi, said that tracing in Italy is a hypothesis on the table, concrete, not only for the emergency phase: once we have managed to contain the virus,

For Rezza there are two models: the Chinese one, where draconian measures were implemented that are difficult to replicate, and the Korean one, where with remote control they managed to flatten the curve of the contagions.

What about the Gdpr?

Contact tracing apps immediately open the field to the privacy issue.

According to the European Data Protection Board, Edpb (European Data Protection Committee), in the context of a Declaration on the processing of personal data concerning the Covid-19 epidemic, privacy rules (the GDPR) may be subject to derogations when it comes to protecting the The principles of proportionality and reversibility must be respected.

In some Member States, writes the Edpb, governments plan to use mobile location data as a possible way to monitor, contain or mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

This would, for example, mean that people can geo-locate or send public health messages to people in a specific area by telephone or text message.

Public authorities should first try to process position data anonymously (e.g. compilation of aggregated data so that people cannot be reidentified), which could allow reports on mobile device concentration at a given location.

The rules on the protection of personal data shall not apply to data that have been duly anonymised.

When it is not possible to process only anonymous data, the European Privacy Directive allows states introducing legislative measures to safeguard public security (Article 15). If measures are introduced to allow the processing of non-anonymous data on the position, a Member State is obliged to put in place adequate safeguards, such as the right to judicial redress.

Download the document of the EDPB on privacy and Covid-1

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