Norway has decided to halt its coronavirus contact tracing app efforts amid privacy concerns.
Contact tracing has been touted as one of the key weapons in the war on COVID-19. Countries around the world have opted to use different types of tracing apps, with many basing their efforts on the privacy-focused API developed by Apple and Google. Norway, on the other hand, is not one of those countries, choosing to develop its own app that did not win any marks for privacy.
With new cases plateaued for the last month, however, it appears that Norway has decided the privacy risks are not worth the minimal benefit the country is currently seeing. Officials have decided to stop collecting data, delete existing data and stop work on the app indefinitely.
According to the MIT Technology Review, however, not everyone is in agreement. Specifically, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) believes the move is a mistake.
“With this, we weaken an important part of our preparedness for increased spread of infection, because we lose time in developing and testing the app,” said NIPH director Camilla Stoltenberg. “At the same time, we have a reduced ability to fight the spread of infection that is ongoing. The pandemic is not over. We have no immunity in the population, no vaccine, and no effective treatment. Without the Smittestopp app, we will be less equipped to prevent new outbreaks that may occur locally or nationally.”
This is just the latest in the privacy tightrope companies and countries alike are trying to walk as they battle the spread of the virus.