As European governments start easing lockdown restrictions, developing an effective contact tracing strategy has become a top priority to prevent a new surge of COVID-19 outbreaks. A key part of this strategy will almost certainly involve mobile contact tracing apps that automatically notify users who have encountered someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Unfortunately, the European Commission’s guidance issued in April recommends that, in line with the EU General Data Protection Regulation, users “should be able to give their consent to each functionality of an app separately” and that proximity data should “only be shared with the user’s consent.” Leaving it up to individual users to choose to opt in to such an app would be a mistake—the only way this type of mobile app will reach a critical mass is if it is enabled by default.
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Image credits: Flickr user European Parliament.