OSLO | The Norwegian health authorities announced Monday the suspension of their application trace after a warning from the national agency of data protection, the Datatilsyn, which considers the tool to be too intrusive on the current epidemiological situation.
Launched in April in the nordic country, the application Smittestopp (“stop the contagion”), of the local design, is used to collect data that would help the authorities to analyze the spread of the virus and to inform its users of a potential exposure to a carrier of the COVID-19.
“We do not agree with the assessment of the Datatilsyn, but we must to erase all the data and put our work in the pause following the warning,” said the director of the Norwegian Institute of public health, Camilla Stoltenberg, in a press release.
In a letter Friday, the Datatilsyn had issued a notice of”temporary ban”, depriving the institute of an opportunity to process the personal data collected through Smittestopp.
“In light of the current situation, with the low extent of the epidemic, the low rate of use of Smittestopp and deficiencies in the achievement of the objectives of tracing and evaluation of health measures, we no longer consider Smittestopp as an intrusion proportionate in the protection of personal data of the individual,” explained the organization.
The application had a start slow with only 600 000 active users in a country of about 5.4 million inhabitants, and the information function of user exposure to the virus, tested in three municipalities, would be repugnant to the very low number of new cases.
By suspending Smittestopp, “we weaken an important aspect of our device against a further spread of the epidemic, because we lose time in the development and testing of the application,” added Ms. Stoltenberg.
“We see at the same time our ability to fight the current epidemic be reduced. The pandemic is not over,” she warned.
Downloadable on the basis of volunteerism, Smittestopp uses, much to the dismay of some privacy advocates, at a central data storage such as the plan to France and the United Kingdom, and relies on Bluetooth technology and on location.