BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany hopes to launch a smartphone app within weeks to help trace coronavirus infections, after a broad political consensus emerged that adopting an approach pioneered by Singapore can be effective without invading people’s privacy.
Germans are deeply suspicious of digital surveillance, and the use of individual smartphone location data to track the spread of the pandemic would be illegal under national and European Union privacy laws.
But a fast-moving debate has yielded agreement across party lines that it would be useful and acceptable to track close-proximity Bluetooth ‘handshakes’ between smartphones.
That would resemble Singapore’s TraceTogether app, which records the recent history of such contacts on a device. Should the smartphone’s owner test positive for COVID-19, the respiratory illness the coronavirus can cause, that data could be downloaded so that contact-tracing teams can quickly get in touch with others at risk.
“We are confident we…
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