The controversial COVID-19 tracking phone application in France approved by the lower house of Parliament

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The French National Assembly approved a controversial phone application against coronaviruses by 338 votes to 215 amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

The tracking app, called StopCovid, uses bluetooth to track when a phone is near other people who have the app.

Once someone registers a positive test for COVID-19, the application sends an alert to those who have been in contact with this person for more than 15 minutes so that they can self-isolate to prevent a new spread of the virus.

The phone application does not reveal the identity of the person who tested positive for coronavirus.

This type of proximity phone app has been criticized by data protection advocates who say governments could track location information or store users’ personal data.

French Minister of Digital Economy Cédric O said the app would not be used to geotag users, but some members of Parliament have always expressed concerns about its functions.

French MP Charles de Courson compared the phone application to Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, asking if “general surveillance” progressed during the parliamentary debate.

“The illusions of a better world thanks to digital technology are evaporating and citizens are discovering the progressive loss of their freedom,” he said.

The president of the law commission of the Parliament, Yaël Braun-Pivet, declared that “his initial fear was a kind of” big brother “. I didn’t want the application to be mandatory or to be able to geotag or store data. “

Braun-Pivot said that she is now satisfied with the application that people can install or remove and which is “independent of Apple and Google”.

“It should be up to the users to decide whether the benefits outweigh the disadvantages of using the contact finder applications,” said Greg Nojeim, counsel and director of Freedom, Security and Technology at the Center for Democracy. & Technology in Washington DC.

“Governments can encourage the use of apps by suppressing requests to collect location information through apps and by ensuring that users control the data that these apps will generate on their contacts. “

Other countries are considering using phone applications to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The UK is currently testing a phone app on the Isle of Wight.

The French phone application could be downloaded next week. The next step is for the Senate to vote and debate the application.

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