Spahn opts for controversial Corona app model

Berlin The chaos around the planned Corona warning app seems to have cleared up. As the CDU digital politician Tankred Schipanski told the Handelsblatt, the Federal Ministry of Health from department head Jens Spahn (CDU) has now opted for the software framework of the Pepp-PT initiative.

Accordingly, the ministry informed the Bundestag’s digital committee on Wednesday that it had examined three possible technical platforms and then decided on Pepp-pt. The future mobile phone app for monitoring infections in the coronavirus pandemic is to dock on the technological platform developed by over 130 scientists.

“We are on the right track with the Corona app,” Schipanski told Handelsblatt. In close exchange with the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, Ulrich Kelber, the Cybersecurity Authority BSI and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft is developing an app based on Pepp-PT technology.

The ministry’s decision is remarkable. Because the Pepp-PT project had been heavily criticized in the past few days because of its data protection concept. Around 300 experts signed an open letter warning of the risk of surveillance and misuse if data were stored centrally. The majority of them support the DP-3T concept, which provides for the decentralized storage of data on smartphones.

The Ministry of Health now prefers central storage of user data when developing the planned warning app, as a ministry spokesman said in Berlin on Wednesday. According to the Reuters news agency in the digital committee it was argued that otherwise decentralized storage on the cell phones would have to ask the US companies Google and Apple to disclose data. But that is not in the sense of an effective pandemic control.

The Greens faction leader Konstantin von Notz accused the Spahn of a lurching course when deciding on the app standard. “While it was emphasized on Tuesday that various approaches to data storage, both central and decentralized, were being examined, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health was quoted in the press shortly after the end of the meetings of the relevant Bundestag committees, saying that one preferred central storage of user data,” said von Notz to the Handelsblatt. “The Federal Government’s action is not only fatal for the acceptance of an app solution, it also shows a lack of respect for the parliament.”

Warning of “technological beauty contest”

Schipanski, however, emphasized that the effectiveness of the app in combating the pandemic is paramount. “The fact that data is stored centrally is not a legal or political obstacle,” said the CDU politician. “What matters to me is not so much a technological beauty contest, but more that the app makes an effective contribution to overcoming the crisis.”

The CDU health politician Tino Sorge advised to be more “pragmatic” when weighing up legal interests. Of course, data protection is justified. “But it is also about protecting public health, maintaining our everyday life and preserving our economic prosperity,” the Bundestag member told the Handelsblatt.

“It can not be too much for individuals to participate in a protected way in a Corona app.” After all, the app is not about personal data or even location histories, but only about pseudonymized data.

Sorge stressed the broad benefits for the digital fight against the virus. “Using the app and using pseudonymised data, the risk of infection and infection chains can be understood much better and faster than the health authorities will ever be able to do with the laborious telephone calls,” said. “We shouldn’t waste this opportunity – especially not as long as we don’t have a vaccine yet.”

The CDU politician Schipanski now expects in particular from the US group Applethat this opens its interfaces so that the app also works on the IOS system. According to the Ministry of Health, the authorities are currently using Apple, but also Apple Google Discussions about “how to design the interface and where the data is stored”.

One problem at the moment is that Apple has so far refused to open the interface for the app. However, this is seen as a prerequisite for the most extensive, if voluntary, use of the app. The Chancellery should now also engage in talks with the US company. Google is ready to open its interface. Together, the two US companies equip more than 90 percent of all smartphones with their operating systems.

App should be ready at the end of May

A Corona warning app would be installed on the smartphone. It can send an anonymized warning – if possible confirmed by the Ministry of Health – to people who have had contact with infected people. This would work via data exchange between the cell phones of people who use the app. A European exchange mechanism that protects privacy already exists for this. The broadest possible use of a warning app could make it easier to track corona infection chains – also because targeted contacts would then be tested.

In March it was still expected that a corresponding app, which is recommended by the federal government, would be available after the Easter holidays. Günther Krings (CDU), State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of the Interior, is said to have mentioned Wednesday at the end of May as a possible date in the interior committee of the Bundestag, according to participants.

The authority of the federal data protection officer Kelber and the BSI should then have five days to check the app. The authorities are constantly informed about the development. In addition, the app should be made a requirement in certain areas, such as in particularly relevant companies.

The Greens politician from Notz was disappointed. “After weeks of highly contradicting statements, expectations for today were high,” said von Notz. “The Federal Government not only did not take advantage of this opportunity, but continued to get caught up in highly contradictory statements.” On Tuesday, the Federal Government still stated that it wanted a purely voluntary solution, “this clear commitment is already obsolete”, criticized von Notz Look at what Krings said.

On Tuesday, the federal government emphasized that it was only considering using the corona tracking app on a voluntary basis. Models and digital applications would have to meet the requirements of data protection law, for which data processing is based on consent. No location data should be collected either.

More: Read here why the dispute over the Corona warning app is alarming the digital associations.

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Coronavirus – The situation on Saturday: More than 120,000 corona infected people in Germany – Federal President delivers speech

Worldwide, more than 100,000 people have died of Covid-19. Many countries are extending their exit restrictions. Family businesses are facing the end. .

Corona: Ministry of Economy coordinates pandemic production

Brussels, Berlin, Dusseldorf The question has arisen again and again in recent weeks – and again and again Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier avoided it.

Pressed by MPs from the Economic Committee, Altmaier referred to the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Health. The CDU politician, of all people, who has staged himself as an industrial strategist since taking office, has long refused to pursue a corona-specific industrial policy.

Economic State Secretary Thomas Bareiß (CDU) pleaded a week ago in the Handelsblatt for a decentralized, market-driven approach. He is building on “subsidiarity and our federal structure,” said the Altmaier confidant. Locally, supply and demand would come together better “than if it were controlled centrally from Berlin”.

Now the ministry is changing course: This Wednesday, it is supposed to present a draft resolution drafted together with the ministry of health to the federal cabinet. The most important element is the creation of a staff unit to coordinate the production of pandemic supplies.

Coalition circles say that Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is said to have put pressure on the Ministry of Economic Affairs. In her own words, Merkel is striving for a “pillar of in-house production” in Germany and Europe. It is high time for this, the coalition partner believes.

“I see a high level of willingness in many companies to switch,” said Ute Vogt, spokeswoman for the SPD parliamentary group, told the Handelsblatt. “But it needs a quick and well-functioning mediation – I see the duty of the Minister of Economy.”

BDI demands quick political control

In fact, the economy shows initiative. A number of companies have already started pandemic production. Volkswagen produces components for medical devices with 3D printers. Instead of herbal liqueur, Mast-Jägermeister burns alcohol for disinfection. Textile companies like Trigema manufacture protective masks.

However, that alone is not enough to meet the enormous need for corona protective goods. The Federal Association of German Industry (BDI) therefore calls on the federal government to start political governance quickly.

“The important help from industry must not be wasted in unstructured actionism,” said Iris Plöger, member of the BDI executive board, Handelsblatt. The industry can only help in the procurement of corona protective goods and medication if the need, precise product requirements and legal certainty for a quick market approval are clear. “This has to be coordinated centrally at the federal level,” said Plöger.

Trigema boss Grupp: “I don’t use the situation to get rich”

In a statement on the corona crisis, which is available in the Handelsblatt, the BDI calls for government investments in the “construction of a test infrastructure” and payments to companies so that the “investment costs can be absorbed for the common good”.

In order to “avoid capacity bottlenecks caused by pandemics”, state action is required, since no company can afford to “provide the necessary structure in the event of one-time overproduction in free competition”.

Government wants to build “pillar of in-house production”

The BDI paper reads like a blueprint for the new staff unit that is to be located in the Federal Ministry of Economics. Altmaier will not get in the way of the Ministry of Health: While Spahn is responsible for shopping on the existing market for protective goods at home and abroad, the Ministry of Economic Affairs is to initiate the creation of additional production capacities, i.e. to increase the offer.

The Federal Government’s aim is “to set up a pillar of in-house production in Germany and Europe in the medium and long term in addition to the short-term supply of protective equipment, in order to reduce dependencies in this sensitive area,” explains the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

If the first steps towards normalizing everyday life are taken in the coming weeks, the demand for protective goods will continue to increase. Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) already said that he expected a general mask requirement.

graphic

Politicians must also take into account the needs of companies “in order to ensure orderly operation for the phase of restarting the economy”, demands the BDI. Many companies worked “in compliance with the highest hygiene standards and are urgently dependent on personal protective equipment”.

The BDI fears bottlenecks not only with breathing masks and protective coats, but also with raw materials and reagents that are necessary for the manufacture of medical goods and medicines. This applies above all to the virus tests, which are to be greatly expanded according to the plans of the federal government.

“While most of the devices and test procedures are available, the necessary reagents and auxiliary materials that are necessary for testing are a problem,” warns the BDI.

In order to remedy the “massive lack of respiratory masks”, the BDI suggests “simplifying the licensing of protective goods”. The association also campaigns for “the lifting of EU export restrictions on corona goods”. These endangered the delivery of medicines and medical devices.

I can only say that funding can hardly be used more sensibly. Thomas Jarzombek, Federal Ministry of Economics

The Ministry of Economic Affairs does not rule out either, but initially wants to use other industrial policy instruments. For example, funding for the development of a corona vaccine is to be increased.

As the Handelsblatt found out, the Ministry of Economic Affairs is providing another 1.3 million euros for a Tübingen start-up team that is pursuing a particularly promising approach. “The search for a vaccine against the novel corona viruses is a race against time,” said Altmaier’s start-up representative Thomas Jarzombek. “I can only say that funding can hardly be used more sensibly.”

The opposition criticizes that the change of heart in industrial policy comes too late: “Many weeks after the crisis, the federal government founds a planning staff. Many could have done that earlier, ”said Katharina Dröge, spokeswoman for the Greens’ political group. “So valuable time has been lost.”

EU Commission has placed bulk orders

The CDU’s economic council looks ahead: “Germany needs an official list of strategic areas, systemically important companies and products at European and federal level in order to guarantee supply chain security for these important areas for future crises and pandemics,” says a position paper by the Economic council available to the Handelsblatt.

One thing is clear: the other European countries are struggling with similar problems to Germany. There is “a global scramble” for scarce protective equipment and other medical goods, said EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic on Tuesday. “The virus has spread faster and further than anyone expected.” The shortage in Europe had become apparent when Italy unsuccessfully asked the other EU countries for deliveries in early March.

Handelsblatt Morning Briefing - Corona Spezial

The Brussels authority is trying to coordinate national activities. So that the EU countries do not outbid each other on the market, the Commission has placed bulk orders with the manufacturers.

The first contracts for the supply of goggles and masks have been signed, according to Lenarcic. At the same time, the Commission is using computer models to predict the peak of the epidemic in each country in order to deliver the goods there in good time.

More: Manufacture of medical material: companies mobilize themselves. Read more here.

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Unclear about the number of intensive care beds in Germany

Intensive care unit

Hospitals are expected to double the number of their intensive care beds.


(Photo: dpa)

Berlin Sufficient beds in the intensive care units – especially those with ventilators – are the central resource for preventing mass deaths from Covid-19. A few weeks ago, the federal government issued the slogan of doubling the number of registered beds as quickly as possible – before the crisis began, there were 28,000.

In the middle of last week, the head of the German Hospital Society, Gerald Gaß, announced that he estimated that almost 40,000 intensive care beds are now available – of which around 15,000 to 20,000 are free. The central register for intensive care beds of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (Divi) now contradicts this: “We cannot confirm the number of 40,000 intensive care beds in any way,” a spokeswoman for the Divi told Handelsblatt.

According to the daily reports from the hospitals to the Divi, there were 13,346 beds on Friday afternoon, which were occupied by all types of intensive care patients, 10,074 were free. That would not even be the 28,000 that, according to official statistics, were available even before the corona crisis. Also from this “you had to deduct around ten percent that could not be used due to a lack of staff,” continued the divi spokeswoman, “in pediatric intensive care it was as much as 20 percent”. Of the 13,346 occupied intensive care beds, “only” 2680 are currently used to treat corona patients. Of these, 83 percent would need ventilation.

Of the approximately 1160 hospitals with intensive care units, 1119 are now reporting their capacities to the divi. However, it is unclear whether there are partial multiple reports because large clinics have several intensive care units. The registration of the clinics is expected to be required by law next week. This is what a bill from the Federal Ministry of Health provides for, the divi said.

So far, the notification was voluntary. For this reason, the Robert Koch Institute, which also has a stake in Divi, has been urging the clinics to report their data to the Divi for weeks. Because this is only about statistics, the central register for the division of labor in the clinics is much more important: only if it is clear where there are beds available nearby, can patients from overloaded houses also be moved there quickly.

As of this Monday, the data situation of the divi is to become significantly more meaningful – the register is currently moving to a new data platform and is also specifying its queries to the clinics. There has recently been confusion above all about another key figure, namely that of the intensive care beds in the clinics, which “will be free in the next 24 hours” – that is currently 9573. This information was often understood to mean that this number of beds was still too high that would add to the 10,000 free beds.

However, this is not the case, the divi spokeswoman corrected false reports from the past few days. It is only a clinic forecast of how the number of beds currently available will develop within the next 24 hours. For example, if you expect that the number of intensive care patients will be reduced to normal wards due to several upcoming transfers, then report a higher number of free beds for the next day.

More: According to the RKI, the number of intensive care beds will not be enough.

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Consumer advocates threaten dubious dealers with consequences

Berlin Consumer advocates want to take legal action against dubious dealers who take advantage of the corona pandemic with overpriced products or questionable promises. “People who do business in this crisis at the expense of other brazen business should be ashamed,” said the head of the Federal Consumer Association (VZBV), Klaus Müller, the Handelsblatt. The consumer advice centers warned if the legal situation existed. “Three breathing masks for 999 euros or vitamin supplements against the corona infection are no longer within a free pricing framework that would be tolerable,” says Müller.

According to Müller, some of the online retailers make sure that there is no platform for such “bad deals”. “The consumer advice centers ensure that legal consequences also threaten here.”

Müller takes a critical view of the trade in food supplements in this context. “Here consumers are being pulled out of their pockets with unfair and unsustainable promises,” said the VZBV boss. “This is particularly reprehensible in times of the corona crisis.”

Despite pending scientific evidence of its effectiveness, more and more people are taking nutritional supplements. In Germany, every third adult takes such a preparation, and one in four takes more than one per day. According to the statistics service provider IQVIA, the manufacturers achieved sales of 2.1 billion euros in 2018 through sales in German pharmacies alone – an increase of almost six percent annually since 2014.

With regard to such non-medical preparations, the Greens also warn of dubious health promises – especially in times of the corona crisis. “Dietary supplements cannot prevent people from getting the new corona virus. Providers who appear different in the current crisis are not serious and are deceiving consumers, ”said the Green Party parliamentary spokeswoman for the Greens, Renate Künast, the Handelsblatt. “Profit from the fear of the pandemic is unacceptable in every way.”

Consumer advocates found years ago that websites such as the “Center of Health” promoting food supplements are often primarily about product sales. In the case of the current crisis, the dangerousness of the corona virus is even relativized. “Fear – whether of the corona virus or other things – usually arises only because we have heard something about the supposed thing and believe it,” says the website of the portal. And: “For example, many people are afraid of wolves without ever having hit one. Then why are they afraid of wolves? Because they believe something that is written or told about these animals. “

Strict regulation required

And a few paragraphs later it goes on: “So do not believe everything that is said and claimed. But don’t spread rumors yourself. Because just because this or that stands or is told somewhere, it doesn’t have to be true. ”

Users who continue to look around on the website will then find tips with the headline: “How to strengthen your immune system with selenium”. To explain it then says: “Anyone looking for protection against corona inevitably stumbles across selenium. The trace element is responsible for a powerful immune system – and a strong immune system in turn protects against viruses, including corona. ”

The Consumer advice center North Rhine-Westphalia, however, clarifies in a current warning: “There are no food supplements that can prevent a disease with the novel corona virus (SARS-CoV-2).”

The Green politician Künast warns: “Instead of relying on false advertising promises, people should strengthen their immune system through healthy and balanced nutrition and sufficient exercise.” And when dealing with the virus, she recommends serious recommendations such as those of the Federal Ministry of Health or the Robert Koch Institute.

Künast also sees a need for legislative action. “The very lucrative business with food supplements must finally be regulated.” For years, the EU Commission has not complied with its announcement to set maximum levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements. “There is also no sign of an approval requirement and therefore a precise review at European level,” criticized the Greens politician.

It is therefore necessary to set national maximum levels for vitamins and minerals in a timely manner. There have been templates for this in the Federal Ministry of Food for years, says Künast. “So that the money is not meaninglessly pulled out of people’s pockets and even new health risks arise, the ministry should finally introduce a regulation in the foreseeable future.”

More: Read here why researchers advise not to spend money on supplements.

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Electronic health record: Ministry of Justice raises concerns

Digitized healthcare

New in the cabinet draft is the regulation that the electronic prescription for prescription drugs should be mandatory from 2022.

(Photo: Hero Images / Getty Images)

Dusseldorf After several months of concerns from the environment of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection regarding the plans for the electronic patient record, the house has now resigned itself to the regulations. This emerges from the draft for a patient data protection law (PDSG), which is available in the “Handelsblatt Inside Digital Health” and is to be passed on Wednesday by the federal cabinet. The letter on the transfer of the draft from the Federal Ministry of Health to the Federal Chancellery, which is also available in the Handelsblatt Inside, states that the Federal Ministry of Justice has no objection to the present draft.

According to information from Handelsblatt Inside, the Ministry of Justice has long criticized that the authorization concept of the electronic patient file should only be roughly granular in the first year, that patients can only release all or none of their data to their doctor. Only from 2022 will it be possible to release individual documents. Due to concerns, the Ministry of Health decoupled the regulations into its own law about a year ago. The cabinet proposal accepted by the Ministry of Justice now shows no change in this plan.

What is new in the cabinet draft, on the other hand, is the regulation that the electronic prescription for prescription drugs should be mandatory from 2022. In addition, Bundeswehr health facilities should also be able to connect to the telematics infrastructure, the central data highway in the healthcare system. Nurses should also have access to the electronic patient files.

For the first time, the additional costs for social insurance will also be quantified through the use and administration of the electronic patient file: If the file were used by 20 percent of the population, there would be additional annual costs of 90 million euros.

The concept of data donation can no longer be found in the cabinet draft. The purpose of the data donation, however, already: “Insured [können] Provide data from their electronic patient files for use for medical research purposes. ”A new feature is that insured persons can also“ make the data from their files directly available for processing for research purposes by means of express consent ”. Consent can be given for a specific research project or for certain areas of research.

More: T-Systems no longer wants to build connectors, the central element for networking the healthcare system. The group remains at the expense of the conversion.

Handelsblatt Inside Digital Health

This post is an extract from our new newsletter “Handelsblatt Inside Digital Health”. Twice a week we analyze the latest developments in digital health there.

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The federal government wants to acquire skills in the fight against coronavirus

Jens Spahn and Angela Merkel

The Federal Minister of Health is to control the fight against corona centrally.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin The federal states are responsible for epidemics, as regulated in the Infection Protection Act. In the fight against the corona virus, German federalism has repeatedly proven to be a disruptive factor. Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) is now planning to provide the federal government with more options for intervention in the case of dangerous infectious diseases and to partially disempower the federal states.

In the coming week, the Bundestag and Bundesrat could pass a “Law to protect the population in an epidemic situation of national importance”. On Saturday, Spahn provided formulation help for the draft law, which is available to the Handelsblatt. The project is also a topic in the federal cabinet on Monday.

“The current outbreak of the disease COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 shows that the functioning of the community can be seriously jeopardized in an emergency under epidemic law,” says the document. “In a dynamically developing outbreak situation, public health throughout Germany can face a significant risk from a communicable disease that spreads across borders, which can only be countered to a limited extent at the state level.”

The federal government must be able to intervene quickly to prevent the entire health system from destabilizing. Among other things, the Ministry of Health is to be empowered to issue regulations for cross-border travel, for example if reporting requirements are to be introduced in rail and bus traffic.

In addition, the ministry should centrally control the supply of medicines and protective equipment. In the event of staff shortages, doctors or nurses could be forced to recruit to fight an epidemic.

The new regulations are about bundling competencies, said Spahn of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, which had first reported on the plans. “And more importantly, in a situation like this we will be able to work within hours for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and everyone else who goes beyond the normal level, takes away bureaucracy, adjusts the rules, increases remuneration.”

“Epidemic situation of national importance” as a prerequisite

An “epidemic situation of national scope” is a prerequisite for federal intervention. According to the draft reform, this means that “either the World Health Organization has identified an international health emergency and threatens to introduce serious communicable diseases into the Federal Republic of Germany, or that, regardless of what the World Health Organization has determined, such diseases spread across the area threatens more than one country. “

Spahn received support from the health policy spokeswoman for the Union faction in the Bundestag, Karin Maag (CDU). “Given the sometimes very hesitant trade in some countries and the very inconsistent implementation of the previous recommendations of the Federal Ministry of Health, a limited pooling of expertise makes sense and is correct,” Maag told Handelsblatt. “I want to move away from the patchwork to uniform rights and obligations for all of Germany.”

However, the draft from Spahn’s house does not address the problem of the different paths that the federal states have taken in the past few weeks with school closings, the ban on major events and curfews. The sovereignty remains with the respective state governments.

More: The federal government plans to provide more than half a trillion euros for companies. This emerges from the draft law for the corona rescue package.

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The Robert Koch Institute is supposed to track down contacts with those infected with corona using cell phone tracking

This emerges from a bill of the Federal Ministry of Health, which is available to the Handelsblatt. The law, together with other government relief and protection laws, is to be passed in a large package as early as next week.

“In the event of an epidemic situation of national scope, the competent authority can use technical means for the purpose of tracking contact persons to identify contact persons of sick people, provided that epidemiological evidence ensures that this protects the population against the risk of serious harm communicable diseases is required, ”says the draft, which is intended to significantly tighten the current infection control law.

The government therefore wants to legally oblige telecommunications services such as Telekom to provide the RKI with the telecommunications traffic data required to determine the location of a mobile device for potential contact persons for sick people. According to the plans, the authority can also inform the identified contact persons of suspected illness. “The competent authority may process personal data for this purpose,” says the draft law. “After the measures have been completed, the deletion of the data must be documented.”

The FDP sees the project critically. “From a rule of law perspective, I definitely see a need for improvement,” parliamentary group leader Stephan Thomae told Handelsblatt. Nobody denies the important purpose. “But Spahn is very shirt-sleeved with civil rights.” It was not at all clear whose data had to be transmitted when. “A judge’s reservation and a strict earmarking are also missing, although this is mandatory under constitutional law,” emphasized Thomae.

The government plans amount to a turnaround in the handling of sensitive data in the corona crisis. Finally, the federal government had assured that the introduction of a nationwide cell phone data analysis was not planned in Germany. At the same time, however, she pointed out that the Robert Koch Institute is already working on how location data can be used to track infection chains.

When the mind games recently became public, the data protection officer of the state of Schleswig-Holstein, Marit Hansen, warns of “unthinkable quick shots”. “The damage would be greater than the benefits,” Hansen told the Handelsblatt at the time. “It is highly sensitive data that gives precise insight into our private and social life.”

Telekom already provides transaction data

Such reservations do not leave the President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, cold. The question was how a possible use of such a tool should be classified ethically, morally, legally and in terms of data protection. That had to be discussed in peace. “The question is whether our society can accept such a thing,” said Wieler recently. For him, it would be a prerequisite that individuals were willing to “donate” their data to the health concept. In any case, new technology would speed up the process of contact tracking.

So far, Wieler’s authority has used anonymized movement data from mobile phone users, which it receives from the Deutsche Telekom get free. This is intended to better assess the success of measures against the spread of coronavirus. “The data show us whether the overall mobility of the population has decreased,” RKI President Lothar Wieler said on Wednesday in Berlin. “It is aggregated, anonymized data and not individual data,” he emphasized.

The Federal Data Protection Commissioner Ulrich Kelber had classified the measure in the chosen form as justifiable. “Especially under the current circumstances, there is nothing against the disclosure of this data for the purpose of health protection,” Kelber told the Handelsblatt. It is data that did not allow conclusions to be drawn about individual people. Data protection is currently being neglected in other countries during the corona virus pandemic.

The Federal Government is now moving in this direction with its plans for a stricter infection protection law. The move is reminiscent of countries that have already used such deep violations of fundamental rights to combat terrorism – and have now extended them to the entire population as part of corona containment.

In Israel, for example, the secret service records the cell phone data of all citizens. Using methods that were previously only used against Palestinian extremists. In future, all cell phones will be used to slow down the spread of the virus. First, the cell phone numbers of the corona infected are recorded. Every step of the patient becomes known up to two weeks ago – i.e. when and where.

With a new ordinance, the domestic secret service has received general permission to collect the individual information of the citizens about the “when and where”. He passes this on to the Ministry of Health so that he knows who has come within two meters of the patient in the past 14 days.

More: Read here why Telekom passes on movement data to the Robert Koch Institute.

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Spahn wants access to Corona contact persons’ mobile data

This emerges from a bill of the Federal Ministry of Health, which is available to the Handelsblatt. The law provides for extensive changes to the Infection Protection Act and is to be passed together with other government relief and protection laws in a large package as early as next week. The aim is to enable the ministry “to take the appropriate crisis response measures” in the event of an epidemic situation of national importance.

To this end, the competent authority, for example, should be allowed to “use technical means to track contact persons in order to identify contact persons for sick people, provided that epidemiological evidence shows that this is necessary to protect the population from exposure to serious communicable diseases is, ”says the draft.

The government therefore wants to legally oblige telecommunications services such as Telekom to provide the RKI with the telecommunications traffic data required to determine the location of a mobile device for potential contact persons for sick people. According to the plans, the authority can also inform the identified contact persons of suspected illness. “The competent authority may process personal data for this purpose,” says the draft law. “After the measures have been completed, the deletion of the data must be documented.”

The FDP is critical of the project. “From a rule of law perspective, I definitely see a need for improvement,” parliamentary group leader Stephan Thomae told Handelsblatt. Nobody denies the important purpose. “But Spahn is very shirt-sleeved with civil rights.” It was not at all clear whose data had to be transmitted when. “A judge’s reservation and a strict earmarking are also missing, although this is mandatory under constitutional law,” emphasized Thomae.

Mobile data in the fight against Corona: “That could only be the first step”

The government plans amount to a turnaround in the handling of sensitive data in the corona crisis. Finally, the federal government had assured that the introduction of a nationwide cell phone data analysis was in progress Germany not planned. At the same time, however, she pointed out that the Robert Koch Institute is already working on how location data can be used to track infection chains.

When the Mind Games recently became public, the data protection officer of the state of Schleswig-Holstein, Marit Hansen, warned against “unthinkable quick shots”. “The damage would be greater than the benefits,” Hansen told the Handelsblatt at the time. “It is highly sensitive data that gives precise insight into our private and social life.”

Telekom already provides transaction data

Such concerns also drive the President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler. The question was how a possible use of such a tool should be classified ethically, morally, legally and in terms of data protection. That had to be discussed in peace. “The question is whether our society can accept such a thing,” said Wieler recently. For him, it would be a prerequisite that individuals were willing to “donate” their data to the health concept. In any case, new technology would speed up the process of contact tracking.

So far, Wieler’s authority has used anonymized movement data from mobile phone users, which it receives from Deutsche Telekom free of charge. This is intended to better assess the success of measures against the spread of coronavirus. “The data show us whether the overall mobility of the population has decreased,” RKI President Lothar Wieler said on Wednesday in Berlin. “It is aggregated, anonymized data and not individual data,” he emphasized.

The Federal Data Protection Commissioner Ulrich Kelber had classified the measure in the chosen form as justifiable. “Especially under the current circumstances, there is nothing against the disclosure of this data for the purpose of health protection,” Kelber told the Handelsblatt. It is data that did not allow conclusions to be drawn about individual people. Data protection is currently being neglected in other countries during the corona virus pandemic.

The Federal Government is now moving in this direction with its plans for a stricter infection protection law. The move is reminiscent of countries that have already used such deep violations of fundamental rights to combat terrorism – and have now extended them to the entire population as part of corona containment.

In Israel, for example, the secret service records the cell phone data of all citizens. Using methods that were previously only used against Palestinian extremists. In future, all cell phones will be used to slow down the spread of the virus. First, the cell phone numbers of the corona infected are recorded. Every step of the patient becomes known up to two weeks ago – i.e. when and where.

With a new ordinance, the domestic secret service has received general permission to collect the individual information of the citizens about the “when and where”. He passes this on to the Ministry of Health so that he knows who has come within two meters of the patient in the past 14 days.

Robert Koch Institute updates risk situation to “high”

More: Read here why Telekom passes on movement data to the Robert Koch Institute.

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Federal government wants to disempower states in the fight against corona


People walk through the weekly market in Oberhausen-Sterkrade on Saturday
Picture: dpa

According to information from the F.A.Z. the Infection Protection Act is to be changed so that in future Health Minister Spahn will hold all the strings. Mobile phone locations and the forced recruitment of doctors would then also be possible.

UIn order to be able to react faster and more sharply in the Corona crisis, the Federal Government is planning far-reaching changes to the Infection Protection Act. According to information from the F.A.Z. In future, the federal government will claim more intervention options throughout the state, while the federal states will be partially disempowered. This emerges from a draft by the Federal Ministry of Health to amend the law, which the F.A.Z. available exclusively.

Christian Geinitz

If the draft law becomes law, the federal government could, for example, prohibit the transportation of people across borders, locate the contact persons of infected people by cell phone, centrally control the supply of medicines and protective equipment, and forcefully recruit medical personnel. However, it cannot impose curfews or restrictions, such as those currently under discussion and in force in some countries.

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