TousAntiCovid has not been of much use against covid, notes Cnil

The fifth Cnil report on digital tools in the fight against coronavirus points to TousAntiCovid’s “marginal utility” and its main function: contact tracking.

Who remembers the TousAntiCovid app? At least one body: National Commission for Computing and Liberties (Cnil). On Monday, July 4, the authority responsible for ensuring compliance with personal data legislation released its fifth report on the technical tools mobilized against the coronavirus pandemic.

It appears from this new status report that the mobile application, designed to circulate information between smartphones using it in case of proximity to a sick person, has not changed much for several months. The recent updates have not significantly changed the functionality of the app.

Therefore, Cnil has not performed other checks since mid-July 2021 to verify the tool’s compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The latest update for Android goes back to June 16 and concerns ” various improvements and fixes which did not consist of adding new features.


TousAntiCovid’s main function is not crucial to covid

But there is one point that Cnil is still pushing for: the application’s interest in the fight against the spread of the virus. The report assesses that TousAntiCovid’s primary functionality has far from shown its interest. The Commission is even talking about a ” marginal utility »Contact tracking (contact tracking), although it is the primary function of the app.

Contact tracking, which consists of using the Bluetooth link to send pseudonymous information between two smartphones via a central server managed by the state, to find out if you have been near a patient for some time, actually requires a number of prerequisites to really make a difference.

It must be remembered that people must have a smartphone (preferably not an iPhone), that they activate Bluetooth for the application, that it must be installed and configured, that sick people have registered their medical situation in the app, and that the remote transfer is successful. But out of all the people you can meet in one day, who crosses all these boxes?

The CNIL report emphasizes this. This ” Bluetooth contact tracking functionality in the global system to combat the Covid-19 epidemic [est] highly dependent on the number of actively used applications “. However, the app may be on phones, but has not been opened and activated for several months. Maybe it was even uninstalled sometimes.

All AntiCovidQR
The app does not play a demonstrably critical role in combating the spread of covid. // Source: Louise Audry for Numerama

To emphasize this impression of forgetting the existence of the app, Cnil notes that ” usage statistics for the contact tracking feature (share of positive cases that report themselves in the app, number of notified users, share of people who have tested positive who have declared themselves in the app after receiving notification, etc.) does not seem very high. »

Nevertheless, the Commission acknowledges the increased applicability of TousAntiCovid when a more active circulation of the virus occurs, ” given the increase in numbers below the peaks of the epidemic “, resulting in a” continuous improvement of the efficiency indicators for the “contact tracking” functionality But even during these periods, the role of the TAC is random.

A limited contribution to dealing with the health crisis, but also because the app wants to be as intrusive as possible.

However, CNIL’s analysis of TousAntiCovid is accompanied by one drawback: it received the government’s second report to parliament late, which prevented it. ” carefully to analyze […] the use of the TousAntiCovid application, its acquisition of users and the efficiency of the contact tracking functionalities. »

The results of the Cnil lead him to say that the application can be sustained due to the epidemic crisis, which is also rising by a seventh wave, especially as the integrated guarantees for privacy remain satisfactory – the points that had previously concerned the authority has been processed over updates.

However, it advises individuals to use it only during periods of active circulation of the virus. And to the government, the institution reminds him that the use of the application must be limited to the time strictly necessary to respond to an extraordinary health situation. But apparently it seems that more and more French people have already chosen to reject it themselves.


The health card // Source: Numerama / Melvyn Dadure

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