Plans for National App for COVID-19

Posted on 7 May 2020

The primary purpose of the app is to enable the health services to improve the speed and effectiveness of contact tracing and to map and predict the spread of COVID-19. This is in support of the overall goal to flatten the curve and prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others in our community.

As well as supporting the government’s overall efforts in the immediate fight against COVID-19, the government intends for the app to help people return to normal life as restrictions ease.

Dáil statement and briefing for Minister Harris on the national app for COVID-19. This includes core assertions relating to the app, use of the app by children, privacy concerns, location data, symptom checking, contact tracing and cross border use of apps.

Tracing apps in the EU

The EU and many member states have been putting forward various digital tracking measures aimed at mapping, monitoring, and mitigating the pandemic. 

Contact tracing apps that alert people who have been in proximity to an infected person for a certain time have emerged as the most promising from a public health perspective. The added value of these apps is that they can record contacts that a person may not notice or remember, thus enabling more accuracy and limiting further spread of the disease.

Apps could also provide accurate information to individuals on the pandemic, provide questionnaires for self-assessment and guidance, or provide a communication forum between patients and doctors.

Apps might prove effective, but could also expose sensitive user data, such as health and location.

The guidelines and toolbox for developing any COVID-19 related apps, prepared by the Commission in cooperation with member states, European Data Protection Supervisor, and European Data Protection Board aim at guaranteeing sufficient protection of data and limiting intrusiveness.

Guidance on data protection is an essential part of the Commission guidelines, stressing that the apps must fully comply with EU data protection rules, most notably the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive.

View the list of COVID-19 apps here.