ER Editor: Germans are getting increasingly wary of the mass surveillance corona-tracing app that’s just been rolled out according to a poll, and Norway has suspended the use of its own, deleting data already collected. In both cases, privacy concerns are cited.
Majority Of Germans Refuse To Install Corona-Warn-App
When it comes to fighting COVID-19, mass-testing, effective contact-tracing and wearing face masks in public are all claimed to be effective at curbing the disease’s spread.
Technological solutions are still being developed across much of the world and Germany has just rolled out its new “Corona Warning App”. Reuters reports that the app, now available for Apple and Android devices, uses Bluetooth short-range radio to measure close contacts between people and issues a warning should one of them later test positive for COVID-19.
But, as Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, even though experts have praised the app, the public is divided about using it for privacy reasons.
In April, 47 percent of the German public said they would use such an app and that fell to 42 percent by June, according to polling data from Forschungsgruppe Wahlen.
46 percent currently say they would not use the app, an increase on the 42 percent saying they would not use it back in April.
You will find more infographics at Statista
And so German officials are appealing to the public to help break the chain of infection
“This app isn’t a cure-all. It’s not a free pass. But it’s an important additional tool for containing the pandemic,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said.
Some observers have called for an EU-wide alert app, claiming the busy summer holiday season could render national solutions ineffective. However, with the German people refusing to play along with the mass surveillance and Norway having already abandoned their “tracking” app, we suspect any EU-wide solution is as fantasy-laden as the likelihood of strong economic growth ever reappearing.
Norway Abandons COVID-Tracking App Over Privacy Fears
Norway’s health authorities suspended the use of its COVID-19 tracing app and deleted all location data collected amid new privacy criticism from the Norwegian Data Protection Authority (DPA), reported The Local.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) launched the smartphone app Smittestopp (“infection stop”) in April was used to collect location data of COVID-19 carriers.
The country’s data privacy watchdog raised several red flags with the app on Friday, indicating that it’s too “invasive” now that COVID-19 infection and death rates have slowed.
“Smittestopp is a very invasive measure, even in an exceptional situation where society is trying to fight a pandemic,” DPA said in a statement. “The legality of Smittestopp depends on the social benefits.”
The NIPH responded to DPA’s criticism of the app and said:
“We don’t agree with the DPA’s evaluation, but feel it is necessary to delete all data and put work on hold as a result of this.
“We will as a result weaken an important part of our preparedness against a spread in infection, as we now lose time for development and testing of the app,” NIPH said in a statement.
Norway has mostly avoided the pandemic versus other countries in Europe. The country has only seen 8,639 confirmed cases with 242 deaths. At the moment, there are only 16 people hospitalized with the virus, with just 4 in intensive care.
COVID-19 Cases In Europe
COVID-19 Deaths in Europe
Smittestopp uses Bluetooth and GPS to track and detect users when they are near a COVID-19 carrier. The app was downloaded 1.6 million times, but active users have dropped to about 600,000 since confirmed cases continued to decline.
DPA questioned the effectiveness behind Smittestopp, considering its low participation. NIPH said the pandemic is not over, and suspending the app’s usage could undermine the country’s effort to combat the spread.
Tracing apps have been controversial in Europe and elsewhere around the world — many have alleged these government-sponsored tracking apps infringe on people’s rights by collecting location data.
Earlier this month, the US government and law enforcement agencies used tracing apps and big tech to identify rioters.
The war on COVID around the world has ushered in a massive surveillance state with tech weaponry that governments can deploy at any time: thermal imaging cameras, drones, contact tracing, biometric databases, etc.
No one is safe from the government in a post-corona world — they’re watching everyone’s move. But in Norway — the tracing app has been turned off – however, with threats of a second virus wave “has arrived” — it’s only a matter of time before the app is turned back on.
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