Lockdown or Knock-out? Part 4: Is the corona detector a solution?

31 July 2020
Knowledge Base

by Michel Klompmaker

Let’s start with the facts. Last week was the worst week to date, with 1.794,124 registered infections. Many politicians seem to be turning a blind eye to this reality and we should fear the fact that global figures, especially in Asia and Africa, are not correct. After all, not all cases of infections were registered in a reasonably civilised country such as the Netherlands. Meanwhile, EU Commissioner Gentiloni says “It is time to pump new confidence and new money into our economies in this critical situation.” There are now more than 17 million registered coronavirus patients worldwide and the EU has adjusted its economic expectations for the EU countries downwards.

It was recently was announced that testing in the east of the Netherlands from Twente University will be carried out with a new app, the corona detector. The app will be supported by Google and Apple and it communicates with other phones via bluetooth. An interesting detail is that the servers of this new app lie with the tax authorities. The Dutch Data Protection Authority has previously stated that the use of telecom data is not permitted under current legislation and that privacy must be properly guaranteed in the event of an amendment of the law. One can rightly raise some questions if the above-mentioned trio Google, Apple and the Tax Authorities are behind this trial.

The question is whether the app complies with the privacy frameworks that have been agreed upon within the European Union. The chance of traceability of the data to (groups of) individuals is present. Hence, the question whether the data cannot be considered anonymous data. Certainly when the data falls into the hands of parties that have large amounts of location data, traceability quickly lurks. But other parties could also trace the telecom data back to individuals with available data sources and some computing power, according to the Dutch Data Protection Authority.

To conclude, a few facts: In the USA, the engine of the global economy, more than 70,000 new cases of infection were recorded yesterday. The Brazilian president is now also suffering from the flu that he calls corona. And a little closer to home: The Dutch state and a number of water supply companies are charged with several hundred vulnerable families with children being cut off from drinking water. In the same country, thanks to the NOW scheme, overpaid professional footballers are simply paid with tax money while their employer has hundreds of millions of euros in the bank.

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