EU to support exit strategies through mobile data and apps

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The European Commission is recommending steps and measures to develop a common EU approach for the use of mobile applications and mobile data in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Digital tools can play an important role in the gradual lifting of containment measure, when the time will be ripe for that, if they are compliant with EU rules and well coordinated.

EU-wide approach for mobile applications and modelling of virus evolution

The EU is following a two-pronged process in this regard. 

The first involves a pan-European coordinated approach for the use of mobile applications for empowering citizens to take effective and more targeted social distancing measures and for warning, preventing and contact tracing. The second relates to common approach for modelling and predicting the evolution of the virus through anonymised and aggregated mobile location data.

The Recommendation sets out key principles for the use of these apps and data as regards data security and the respect of EU fundamental rights such as privacy and data protection.

Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton 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.”

Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, added: “We all must work together now to get through this unprecedented crisis. The Commission is supporting the Member States in their efforts to fight the virus and we will continue to do so when it comes to an exit strategy and to recovery. In all this, we will continue to ensure full respect of Europeans’ fundamental rights. Europe’s data protection rules are the strongest in the world and they are fit also for this crisis, providing for exceptions and flexibility. We work closely with data protection authorities and will come forward with guidance on the privacy implications soon.

Guidance to Member States

To support Member States, the Commission will provide guidance including on data protection and privacy implications. The Commission is in close contact with the European Data Protection Board for an overview of the processing of personal data at national level in the context of the coronavirus crisis.

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