The legal basis for the SwissCovid app is in place. Their use is voluntary and the non-participation must not result in any disadvantages. Data protection is also guaranteed at all times. The Federal Council decided on Wednesday.
The current situation with the low infection rate was so positive that they hoped to be able to return to the logic of containment, Health Minister Alain Berset told the media. Above all, the cantons doctors are required, who have to isolate positive cases and find their contacts in order to curb the spread.
The SwissCovid app complements the conventional contact tracing of the cantons. This would allow the possible chains of infection to be tracked more quickly. At the request of Parliament, the Federal Council has now drawn up an urgent message with the legal basis. Now it is up to Parliament to deal with them quickly. “Without the parliamentary decision, the app will not be launched,” said Berset.
No data storage or geolocation
The data processed in the app served the sole purpose of notifying the participants if they were exposed to the coronavirus, according to a statement by the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG). They are to be stored locally and the system does not record any location data. Both the technical and the source code are public.
Berset again emphasized that the use of the app is voluntary and should only be used to combat the pandemic. Nobody could be punished if they did not use the app. There is no geolocation and data protection is also guaranteed. According to his understanding, the federal data protection officer also confirmed this.
The Swiss solution DP-3T was co-developed by the ETH Lausanne and Zurich. It is currently being tested by employees of the two institutes, members of the army and employees of hospitals as well as administrations.
The tool uses Bluetooth to determine the proximity to other cell phones on which the app is installed. This contact is saved. If a user later enters an infection with the corona virus, all other contact persons are alerted. You can then isolate yourself or have it tested.
Use abroad possible
In theory, the app could also be used abroad in the future. This so-called interoperability was a goal of the developers from the beginning, said Kim Sang-Il, the BAG person responsible for digital transformation. Technically, the app has all the basics. Switzerland is now in contact with other countries on the question of which framework conditions must be observed. However, they are “good hope” that minimum data protection standards could be met.
As soon as the app for combating the corona virus is no longer required, the Federal Council wants to take the system out of operation, it said in the message. The parliament should discuss the submission in the summer session in June. If the amendment to the Epidemic Act agrees, the SwissCovid app could be introduced throughout Switzerland before the end of June.