European Commission adopts Recommendation to support coronavirus exit strategies

Recommendation includes steps and measures for the use of mobile applications and data.

The European Commission has recommended steps and measures to develop a common EU approach to use mobile applications and mobile data in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It says that digital tools can play an important role in the gradual lifting of containment measures. The Recommendation sets out a process towards the adoption of a toolbox, focusing on two aspects:

  • a pan-European coordinated approach for the use of mobile applications so that people can take effective and more targeted social distancing measures and for warning, preventing and contact tracing; and
  • a 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 in relation to data security and the respect of EU fundamental rights such as privacy and data protection.

A common coordinated approach for the use of tracing apps

The Commission been looking into the effectiveness of apps solutions to address the crisis as well as their effect on data protection. The key part of the Recommendation is the proposal for a joint toolbox towards a common coordinated approach for the use of smartphone apps that comply with EU data protection standards. It will consist of:

  • specifications to ensure the effectiveness of mobile information, warning and tracing applications from a medical and technical point of view;
  • measures to avoid proliferation of incompatible applications, support requirements for interoperability and promotion of common solutions;
  • governance mechanisms to be applied by public health authorities and in cooperation with the European Centre for Disease Control;
  • the identification of good practices and mechanisms for exchange of information on the functioning of the applications; and
  • sharing data with relevant epidemiological public bodies, including aggregated data to ECDC.

The Commission will provide guidance including about data protection and privacy implications, and is working with the European Data Protection Board.

A common approach for predicting and modelling the spread

The toolbox will also focus on developing a common approach for modelling and predicting the evolution of the virus through anonymous and aggregated mobile location data. The aim is to analyse mobility patterns including the impact of confinement measures on the intensity of contacts, and hence the risks of contamination. The Commission says that this will be an important and proportionate input for tools modelling the spread of the virus, and should provide insights for the development of strategies for opening up societies again.

Next steps

Member states and the Commission plan to develop a toolbox for a pan-European approach for mobile applications in association with the European Data Protection Board by 15 April 2020. The Commission will provide guidance including on data protection and privacy implications. Member States should report on the actions they have taken by 31 May 2020, and make the measures accessible to other member states and the Commission for peer review. The Commission will assess the progress made and publish periodic reports starting in June 2020 and throughout the crisis, recommending action and/or the phasing out of measures that are no longer necessary.

Published: 2020-04-16T09:00:00

    Please wait...