France is building a “Stop Covid” application, but confidentiality issues could derail it

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A number of different apps from countries and companies around the world have been created to stop the coronavirus pandemic, including those from big tech companies like Apple. Now, France throws its hat in the ring.

The country’s health and digital ministers, Olivier Véran and Cédric O, officially announced that the government was creating an application in order to slow the pandemic, which has ravaged the world and affected more than 83,000 French citizens.

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, Véran and O said that the application is designed to “limit the spread of the virus by identifying the chains of transmission”.

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“We are in an exploratory phase, but we do not want to close any doors,” they added, according to a translated version of the article.

Despite widespread concern about the virus, it is feared that privacy will be invaded. Following this announcement, Amnesty International urged governments to remain vigilant while respecting the rights of citizens.

“Technology can and should play an important role in this mobilization to save lives, for example to spread public health messages and increase access to health care,” said an Amnesty International statement. “However, the strengthening of state power over digital surveillance, such as access to location data from mobile phones, threatens privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association, which could flout rights and undermine confidence in government – thereby compromising the effectiveness of any public health response. “

“Such measures also carry a risk of discrimination and are likely to cause disproportionate harm to already marginalized populations,” the statement added.

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The app, known as “Stop Covid,” will not be a forced installation and will use Bluetooth, the two officials told Le Monde. They added that a prototype is under construction, which will take three to six weeks to create.

However, Cédric O warned that the application might not be published at all, declaring to Le Monde via TechCrunch that “Bluetooth was not designed to measure the distance between individuals”.

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The news comes after British researchers recently developed an app to track the spread of the coronavirus and determine who is most at risk in order to mitigate the spread of the disease.

Known as Covid Symptom Tracker, the free app asks users to fill in data such as age, gender and zip code as well as questions on a range of existing medical conditions, such as heart disease and asthma.

As of Thursday morning, more than 1.49 million cases of coronavirus had been diagnosed worldwide, including more than 432,000 in the United States, the most affected country on the planet.

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Christopher Carbone of Fox News contributed to this story.

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