Norway’s Public Health Body (FHI) has stopped using its Coronavirus Contact-Tracing App following the directives of the Country Data Protection Authority on the collection and use of consumer location data. FHI also deleted all information collected so far through the app.
Norwegian privacy regulator DataSignet has expressed concern over the way in which both GPS location data and Bluetooth data are collected from app users called Smitestop. The app is “not considered a proportionate interference with users’ fundamental privacy rights,” its assessment.
In a statement, the watchdog said, “We believe FHI does not prove that using location data for infection detection is mandatory” and recommends that the app only use data collected via Bluetooth. “EU countries have developed infection tracking applications. “
What the numbers say: According to the Johns Hopkins University, 8,639 cases of Kovid-19 were reported in Norway and 242 in Norway.
The app is being tested in three parts of the country, but because of the low rate of infection in those areas, the health authority last week said it would be difficult to test whether the Smitestop app notifies “those who are actually exposed to the infection.”
The watchdog questioned the “lack of freedom of choice for users” signing up for the app.
According to DataSignet, the data needed to track infections is also being used for analysis and research, with the regulator saying there are two different purposes and “different personal information” required.
There are also concerns about how the data collected will remain anonymous. “There is not even a solution for anonymizing and integrating data for analysis,” DatelineSign Director Bjorn Eric Thorne said in a statement. “However, the app constantly collects personal information from all users,” Thon added.
FHI disagreed with the regulator’s assessment.
In a statement, FHI Director Camilla Stoltenberg said that discontinuing the app was “an important part of our readiness for spreading the infection because we are losing time in developing and testing the app.” Stoltenberg warned that the pandemic did not end, saying: “Without the smitestop app, we are not doing enough to prevent new outbreaks locally or nationally.”
Stoltenberg added: “We hope to find a solution that will enable the introduction of infection notification and analysis of infection control measures in the long run.”
The FHI has until June 23 to resolve issues raised by the regulator.