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EU Pressures Google Over Privacy In Coronavirus Tracing Apps

 |  April 19, 2020

Brussels has stepped up pressure on Google to respect EU privacy laws as the US search group joins forces with Apple to help in the development of Covid-19 contact tracing apps, reported The Financial Times. 

The US tech companies are working to develop a system that will alert individuals of possible exposure to coronavirus in the hope that this will allow cities to emerge from severe lockdowns and kick-start their ailing economies.  

However, there are growing concerns among civil society groups and EU regulators that the introduction of such technologies — even on a voluntary basis, could lead to abuse and breaches of individuals’ privacy. 

Thierry Breton, the EU’s Single Market Commissioner, held a 30-minute teleconference on Wednesday, April 15, with Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai during which he said Brussels would be scrutinizing closely how the service is rolled out in the bloc, according to people with direct knowledge of the talks.

Through the EU’s digital agency, DG Connect, regulators in Brussels will assess potential risks to privacy before the tool is released, which could be as soon as early May, those with knowledge of the discussions said. Mr Breton warned that the design of the app could “trigger concerns on privacy rules” and undermine the whole venture. 

While he is in favor of rolling out tracing apps, the commissioner has been vocal in his opposition to the introduction of apps that would track individuals’ movements in real time using GPS technology.

Full Content: Financial Times

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