uk-coronavirus-app-to-miss-out-on-eu-wide-contact-tracing-scheme

UK coronavirus app to miss out on EU-wide contact-tracing scheme

The U.K.'s coronavirus-tracking app will be left out of EU data-sharing | Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

Brexit Files Insight

UK coronavirus app to miss out on EU-wide contact-tracing scheme

There is no Brexit agreement in place to legally move people’s health data from UK apps to EU ones and vice versa.

By

9/30/20, 4:01 PM CET

Updated 9/30/20, 6:00 PM CET

The United Kingdom is out — of Europe’s efforts to track the coronavirus through smartphone apps.

England and Wales released their long-awaited COVID-19 digital tracing tools last week (Northern Ireland and Scotland had already done so). These apps will not be part of a new cross-border push across the European Union to share data between countries to track the spread of the virus.

The new project (known in EU-speak as the interoperability gateway) will allow participating countries to swap information, anonymously, when people travel across the 27-country bloc. The first three countries — Germany, Ireland and Italy — will get underway on October 17, with a further eight EU countries joining before the end of the year. That information will be used to check if people have come in contact with the virus on their travels, and if they subsequently need to isolate.

But the British apps will be left out in the cold because, despite the country being only months away from the end of the Brexit transition period, there is no reciprocal health data-sharing agreement in place to legally move people’s personal information from the U.K. apps to the European ones,

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