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

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

The fifth Cnil report on digital tools in the fight against the coronavirus points to the “marginal usefulness” of TousAntiCovid and its main function: contact tracing.

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

It emerges from this new progress report that the mobile application, designed to circulate information between smartphones using it in the event of proximity to a sick person, has not changed much for several months. The updates received recently have not significantly changed the operation of the app.

Therefore, the Cnil has not carried out other checks since mid-July 2021 to verify the compliance of the tool with the General Regulations on the Protection of Personal Data (GDPR). The last update for Android dates back to June 16 and concerns “ various improvements and fixes which did not consist of adding new functions.

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The main function of TousAntiCovid is not decisive against covid

But there is one point on which the Cnil still presses: the interest of the application in the fight against the spread of the virus. The report judges that the primary functionality of TousAntiCovid is far from having demonstrated its interest. The Commission even speaks of a ” marginal utility » contact tracing (contact tracing), even though it is the primary function of the app.

Contact tracing, which consists of using the link Bluetooth for send pseudonymized information between two smartphones, passing through a central server managed by the State, to know if one has been near a sick person for a certain time, indeed requires a string of prerequisites to really make a difference.

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

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

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

To underline this impression of forgetting the existence of the app, the Cnil notes that ” usage statistics for the contact tracking feature (proportion of positive cases declaring themselves in the app, number of users notified, proportion of people who tested positive having declared themselves in the app after being notified, etc. ) do not seem particularly high. »

The Commission nevertheless admits an increased usefulness of TousAntiCovid when a more active circulation of the virus occurs, “ given the increase in numbers during epidemic peaks “, resulting in a ” continuous improvement of the efficiency indicators of the “contact tracing” functionality “. But even in these periods, the role of TAC is incidental.

A limited contribution to the management of the health crisis, but also because the app wants to be the least intrusive possible.

The Cnil’s analysis of TousAntiCovid is however accompanied by a downside: it received the government’s second report to parliament late, which prevented it ” to carefully analyze […] the use of the TousAntiCovid application, its appropriation by users and the effectiveness of the contact tracing functionalities. »

The findings of the Cnil make him say that the application can be maintained because of the epidemic crisis, which moreover is rising with a seventh wave, especially since the integrated guarantees to preserve privacy remain satisfactory – the points which had in the past concerned the authority have been fixed over the 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 exceptional health situation. But obviously, it seems that more and more French people have already chosen themselves to dismiss it.

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The health pass // Source: Numerama/Melvyn Dadure

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