PARIS | It is a debate cleaving in France on the digital and freedoms of the individual: the Parliament will vote Wednesday for or against StopCovid, a smartphone app meant to help in the fight against the epidemic by tracing the “case contacts”, but that raises concerns.
Concretely, on the basis of volunteerism, this app will allow a person positive for the coronavirus to automatically alert all users with whom it has had a “prolonged contact” recently, less than a meter, and for more than fifteen minutes, in order that they might be tested in their turn. The Bluetooth function of the phone is used, so no geotagging.
The debate on this application was started at 15 h local to the national Assembly and in the evening in the Senate. It will be followed by votes are not binding for the government.
“Subject to a vote in Parliament, the application will be available as from this weekend”, to support the second phase of the déconfinement in France on June 2, said the secretary of State in charge of Digital, Cedric O.
“As shown by the work of epidemiologists, is that it is useful as soon as the first downloads (…) To have efficacy on a pool of life, it takes a little less than 10 % of users,” he said Wednesday on the radio Europe 1.
The government has repeatedly emphasized the “voluntary” nature, “anonymous” and “temporary” of this application.
On Tuesday, the French national Commission on computing and liberty (CNIL) has given the green light. It is estimated that StopCovid complies with the legislation relating to the private life, while calling for a regular assessment and a detailed information for users.
But it is not enough to avoid a discussion removed from the Assembly and the French Senate.
If a large portion of the parliamentary from the presidential party, LREM were to support the executive, some wish to abstain or vote against, as the member Sacha Houlié, as opposed to “this type of tools. It is a matter of principle.”
Unlike other countries, the French government has chosen not to go through the solutions of Google and Apple, and to use a tool built by researchers from INRIA, the French institute for research in computer science.
The developers have therefore had to floor for their solution to be compatible with maximum mobile, including the Apple iPhone.
StopCovid will work “very well” on the iPhone, has assured Cedric O, even if technical problems persisted on some of the “old phones” and models of the brand apple.
The French right is divided on this application: “overwhelmingly against” at the Meeting, but rather to the Senate.
To the left, the different parliamentary groups are opposed to it.
Several organizations of defense of freedoms in France have also taken a position against the application.