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First interconnected tracing applications in the EU

Coronavirus case-tracing apps from Germany, Ireland and Italy are now interconnected as part of a system that could span a total of 20 European countries, the European Commission said on Monday, as the EU is facing the second wave of the pandemic.

The system allowing this interconnection does not, however, work with the applications based on a “centralized” protocol chosen by France and Hungary. The “gateway” developed by the Commission, operational after a test phase in September, only concerns the so-called “decentralized” applications, already set up in 17 EU countries and planned in three others.

The first to be connected, “Corona-Warn-App” in Germany, “COVID tracker” in Ireland and “Immuni” in Italy, were downloaded by around 30 million people, or two thirds of the downloads of tracking applications in the EU, according to the EU executive.

A second group of apps are due to be connected next week: those from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Latvia and Spain, while more will be in November, according to the Commission statement.

The system allows applications to work across borders, and users to install only one application. “Free movement is an integral part of the single market. The footbridge makes it easier while helping to save lives”, underlined the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton. “As the number of cases starts to rise again, these applications can play an important role in helping us break the chains of transmission,” said Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, “urging” the population to use them.

The interconnection of applications allows users to continue to benefit from contact tracing and receive alerts, whether in their home country or abroad. The exchange of data with the gateway server is reduced to a minimum and the information is “pseudonymized, encrypted, limited”, according to the Commission.

The European executive had issued recommendations to the attention of member states for the implementation of these applications, recommending in particular that they be installed on a voluntary basis. The Portuguese government has decided to ignore it by announcing last week its intention to ask Parliament to legislate urgently to make mandatory the tracking application launched in early September in the country.

Coronavirus case-tracing apps from Germany, Ireland and Italy are now interconnected as part of a system that could span a total of 20 European countries, the European Commission said on Monday, as the EU is facing the second wave of the pandemic.

The system allowing this …

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