On Tuesday, EU Commission vice-president Margrethe Vestager said s coronavirus contact tracing app being introduced in France may not be able to connect with others across the European Union because it stores data centrally.
The EU has been hoping that apps developed by member states to track infections will be able to link up when people move within the bloc, mapping the virus’s spread better and so creating more security for a revival of travel and tourism. Member states agreed on technical standards for this on Tuesday.
France’s approach, which allows central location tracking but has also raised privacy concerns, differs from that of Germany, Italy, and others, which log contacts by Bluetooth signal on individual smartphones only.
Vestager told the French parliament in a videoconference that “It’s somewhat more tricky to develop the technical standards for interoperability between decentralized systems, as I think will be the general rule and the centralized system that France has been aiming for.”
On Tuesday, Germany’s app launched following a standard put in place by Apple and Alphabet’s Google — whose iOS and Android operating systems run 99 percent of the world’s smartphones.
France has also announced that access to its centrally held data is a matter of sovereignty. Its app, “StopCovid”, was launched on June 2 and about 1.5 million people have downloaded and activated it – roughly 2 percent of the population.
Development of the French app was led by the state research institute Inria, with support from French companies such as the telecoms firm Orange, the IT consulting group Capgemini and the software company Dassault Systèmes.