Virus-Tracing App in Norway Suspends Due to Privacy Concerns

Norway’s health authorities said Monday they had suspended an app designed to help track the spread of the new coronavirus after the national data protection agency said it was too privacy-invasive.

Launched in April, the Smittestopp (“Infection Stop”) smartphone app was set up to collect movement data to help authorities track COVID-19 spread, and to inform users if they were exposed to someone carrying the novel coronavirus.

The data agency, Datatilsynet, issued a alert on Friday that it would stop the Norwegian Public Health Institute from handling data collected through Smittestopp.

Datatilsynet said the limited spread of coronavirus in Norway, as well as the limited efficacy of the software due to the small number of people actually using it, meant a disproportionate violation of the privacy resulting from its use.

Camilla Stoltenberg, the director of the Institute for Public Health, said she did not agree with the assessment, but the Institute will now remove all data from the app and suspend its research.

Stoltenberg stated that this weakened Norway ‘s response to coronavirus spread. “Don’t end the pandemic,” she said.

The device had been used by about 600,000 of Norway’s 5.4 million inhabitants.

The application was developed in Norway and is voluntarily downloadable, using centralized data storage, as planned in France and the UK.

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Norway, where coronavirus deaths totaled 242 as of last week, now just see a couple of new cases of infection a day.

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