Norway suspends virus-tracing app following privacy concerns

WION Web Team
Oslo Published: Jun 16, 2020, 12:44 PM(IST)

Coronavirus Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Launched in April, the smartphone app Smittestopp ("Infection stop") was set up to collect movement data to help authorities trace the spread of COVID-19, and inform users if they had been exposed to someone carrying the novel coronavirus.

Norway's health authorities on Monday suspended an app designed to help trace the spread of the new coronavirus after the national data protection agency said it was too invasive of privacy, reported news agency AFP.

Launched in April, the smartphone app Smittestopp ("Infection stop") was set up to collect movement data to help authorities trace the spread of COVID-19, and inform users if they had been exposed to someone carrying the novel coronavirus.

On Friday, the data agency, Datatilsynet, issued a warning that it would stop the Norwegian Institute of Public Health from handling data collected via Smittestopp, the report added.

Datatilsynet said the limited spread of coronavirus in Norway, as well the app's limited effectiveness due to the small number of people actually using it, meant the invasion of privacy resulting from its use was disproportionate.

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Camilla Stoltenberg, the public health institute's director, said she did not agree with that assessment, but the institute would now delete all the app's data and suspend its work.

Stoltenberg said this weakened Norway's response to the spread of coronavirus. "The pandemic is not over," she said.

Some 600,000 of Norway's 5.4 million inhabitants had been using the app.

Norway, where the coronavirus deaths totalled 242 as of last week, is now seeing only a handful of new infection cases a day.

(With inputs from AFP) 

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