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EU agrees interoperability for mobile tracing apps

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EU agrees interoperability for mobile tracing apps

Image by Markus Winkler on Pixabay

(BRUSSELS) - EU Member States agreed Monday on a set of technical specifications to ensure a safe exchange of information between national contact tracing apps based on a decentralised architecture.

The agreement concerns the majority of tracing apps that were already – or are about to be – launched in the EU. Once the technical solution is deployed, such national apps will work seamlessly when users travel to another EU country which also follows the decentralised approach. This means an important additional step towards interoperability of mobile apps for tracing coronavirus infections, as Member States begin to lift travel restrictions across borders in time for summer vacation.

"As we approach the travel season, it is important to ensure that Europeans can use the app from their own country wherever they are travelling in the EU," said Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton: " Contact tracing apps can be useful to limit the spread of coronavirus, especially as part of national strategies to lift confinement measures."

Most Member States have decided to launch mobile apps to complement manual contact tracing of the spread of coronavirus. The great majority of national approved apps are based on a decentralised architecture, which means that the arbitrary identifiers of users that were detected for a certain duration in proximity remain on the phone itself, and will be checked by the phone against the identifiers of users reported to be infected. The technical specification for interoperability will allow these checks to be done also for users travelling from other Member States, without the need to download several national apps.

The proximity information shared between apps will be exchanged in an encrypted way that prevents the identification of an individual person, in line with the strict EU guidelines on data protection for apps; no geolocation data will be used. To support further streamlining of the system, the Commission will set up a gateway service,an interface to efficiently receive and pass on relevant information from national contact tracing apps and servers. This will minimise the amount of data exchanged and thus reduce users' data consumption.

Technical specifications for interoperability of contact tracing apps

Mobile tracing apps across the EU - background guide

Interoperability guidelines for contact tracing apps

EU toolbox on mobile applications to support contact tracing in the EU's fight against COVID-19


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