1App4PT aligns 7 guiding principles for a tracking app to COVID-19

Government gives green light to the decree-law that "validates" the use of the STAYAWAY COVID app and places DGS as the system manager

The technical model was designed since May and has been implemented in the last few months, but for the STAYAWAY COVID app it can be made available, several steps are still missing, one of which is the legal framework for the operation of the system, which had been pointed out by the National Commission Data Protection (CNPD) as one of the relevant factors to be defined.

Today, the Council of Ministers approved, in general, the decree-law that establishes the person in charge of data processing and that regulates the intervention of the health professional in the STAYAWAY COVID system.

Referring to the framework of the application, and the recommendation of the CNPD, the communiqué of the Council of Ministers states that "the present diploma thus establishes the obligation for STAYAWAY COVID to respect the legislation and regulations on data protection and cybersecurity". The decision goes further and places the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) at the head of the system.

"The Directorate-General for Health is the managing authority of the system, being responsible for the processing of data for the purposes of European and national legislation applicable to the protection of personal data", states the statement of the Council of Ministers

The application should function as "a complementary and voluntary tool for responding to the epidemiological situation by reinforcing the identification of contacts", being developed by the Institute of Computer Systems Engineering, Science and Technology (INESC TEC), in partnership with the Public Health Institute from the University of Porto and the companies Keyruptive and Ubirider, within the scope of the National Initiative on Digital Skills e.2030.

The lack of this legal framework was one of the missing steps for the app to reach application stores. The president of INESC TEC has already guaranteed that the app is ready and that the massive test of the application will start tomorrow, although it is still an integration component with the medical systems. In a TSF interview, Jos Manuel Mendona, president of INESC TEC, explained in detail the operation of the application and the steps that have yet to be taken until the app is available for download, which he hopes will happen by the end of the month.

In the past few months, INESC TEC's development team has worked with project partners, the Government and Google and Apple to develop the STAYAWAY COVID app, a contact tracking application that should allow the identification of transmission chains for the new coronavirus . The app installed on smartphones will collect anonymized information from other nearby phones, in contacts considered to be at risk that correspond to a distance of less than 2 meters for 30 minutes, and if one of these people is tested positive, COVID will receive an alert to do the test.

Aapp STAYAWAY COVID should have been ready in late May, then June, but the application that aims to help break contention chains for COVID-19 has faced some issues that go beyond application development, such as integration with health systems , the installation of secure servers, the approval of data protection and even the legislative authorization that was approved today by the Council of Ministers.

At the beginning of the week, Rui Oliveira, from INESC TEC, who is leading the consortium that is developing the STAYAWAY COVID app, stated that "it will not be for technical reasons that the app will not be ready yet in July. After being in the hands of the minister" .

This test that starts tomorrow aims to understand the behavior of the system in the face of massive use of users and will not involve integration with doctors, nor warnings of real situations of contention with COVID-19.Jos Manuel Mendona stressed that for the time being a technical test.