The use of contact-tracing apps to prevent coronavirus infections should be voluntary in the European Union. That, at least, is the directive that the European Commission plans to approve in the coming hours, according to Reuters.

The indication will be part of the package of measures that the supranational body has developed to revive European tourism after the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Among other things, the EU will recommend opening borders between countries with a similar risk profile, according to the draft proposal obtained by Euractiv.

“Contagion alerting and tracking measures, for example, with mobile applications, can be used, on a voluntary basis, by passengers to detect and interrupt chains of infection and reduce the risk of further transmission while the risk of transmission persists, “says the European Commission in a document obtained by Reuters.

Currently, each country in the European Union is studying and / or developing its own tracking application. Countries such as Germany, Italy and Ireland will use the APIs developed by Apple and Google for this, while other nations (such as France or Norway) will, for the moment, opt for their own systems.

Apple and Google’s proposal to track the coronavirus

Last April, Apple and Google revealed all the details about the API that they have jointly developed to facilitate the tracking of possible coronavirus infections. Its two greatest strengths are compatibility and privacy.

Apple and Google’s proposal does not need to access the location of smartphones. Instead, it uses Bluetooth technology to slow down the chain of infection. The operation is very simple:

All mobiles that activate this system will issue an anonymous identifier using Bluetooth technology. This identifier does not contain personal data, so it cannot be associated with a particular individual.
In parallel, the mobiles will capture and store the identifiers issued by the mobiles around them. These will remain in the memory of each device for 14 days.
When a person is positive for coronavirus, the hospital will provide a code with which they can upload the identifiers issued by their mobile to a government server.
The mobile phones of healthy people will periodically compare the identifiers stored in memory with those available on the Government server. If a match is found, the owner will receive a notification advising that they have been close to a person with COVID-19. At that time, you will have to isolate yourself from the rest of society and take appropriate measures not to spread the virus.

Apple and Google are behind the two most popular smartphone operating systems in the world. A simple software update would therefore insert this API into millions of devices.

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