StopCovid: a contact tracking application

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The French National Commission for Information Technology and Freedoms (CNIL) has just given the green light to the StopCovid application aimed at identifying the coronavirus transmission chains. Parliament must now approve its use. She may be available this weekend. What does it consist of?

The StopCovid Tracking App is designed to track Covid-19 positive individuals to facilitate the identification of "contact cases" and to track the coronavirus transmission chains as quickly as possible to limit their spread. "The application is technically operational and the tests are conclusive," said the country's economy and finance ministry.

This Tuesday, May 26, he received a favorable opinion from the CNIL, which, however, made some recommendations for the implementation of the system. Subject to a vote in Parliament (Wednesday, May 27), the app could be available in Apple and Android app stores this weekend, Digital Secretary of State Cédric O said.

What is the StopCovid application for?

This project was presented on April 8 by Cédric O, Secretary of State for Digital, and Olivier Véran, Minister of Health. "StopCovid responds to a health, but also a social, imperative: do everything possible to avoid a resurgence of the epidemic, new victims and a new confinement," they said in a press kit published on May 21. This system is complementary to the action of doctors, health insurance, ARS and field health brigades.

For the government, the goal is threefold: "protect themselves," "protect others," and "support the efforts of caregivers and the health system." Specifically, StopCovid allows you to track other cross users during the last two weeks at less than 1 meter for at least 15 minutes. In case of close contact in the public space (transport, business, workplace, etc.) with a person who tested positive for coronavirus during the last two weeks, the application is responsible for preventing possible "contact cases", which can take your precautions

How does it work?

The application can be downloaded from the Play Store or Google Play. To use it, you will need to activate your Bluetooth and authorize StopCovid to send you notifications. Thanks to Bluetooth signals emitted by users' phones, StopCovid receives the signal from other smartphones equipped with the application and registers their identifier (only if people are one meter away from each other, for longer than fifteen minutes).

If your test is positive for Covid-19, it is reported directly in the application, entering the unique code that will be provided with the test result. The app will take care of notifying everyone you've met in the past two weeks, within a close range (less than a meter and for at least 15 minutes).

If you met an infected person who reported it through StopCovid: You will be notified immediately by notification. You will be invited to quickly isolate yourself and make an appointment with a doctor to request a screening test.

The use of StopCovid is only on a voluntary basis. At each stage of the process, users have the option to activate Bluetooth, share the proximity history, declare their diagnosis or even uninstall the application.

What about data protection?

No personal information is requested when installing the application. StopCovid will automatically generate pseudonyms (ephemeral crypto-identifiers) that will not be associated with a person. When you receive a notification, you will not have information about the people you know. In addition, "identifiers that are no longer epidemiologically relevant will be removed after fifteen days."

The government also ensures that no one, not even the state, will have access to a list of people who test positive or to a list of social interactions between users. "The application does not use people's location at any time using GPS data from mobile phones," he said. Therefore, you will not be able to "track" user movements.

"The application is anonymous, voluntary installation and its use is limited to the Covid-19 crisis. The entire system is also transparent, to provide French men and women with maximum guarantees and to facilitate their adoption."

It is now operational, but it must still pass the stage of debate and voting in Parliament, this Wednesday, May 27. If the project is approved, the Digital Secretary of State hopes to be able to make the application available for the second phase of deconfusion (Tuesday, June 2).

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