Legal basis demanded for coronavirus tracing app

A trial phase for the use of the tracing app is due to begin shortly. Keystone/Laurent Gillieron

Parliament wants the use of a tracking device to stem the spread of coronavirus in Switzerland to be defined in a law. The mobile phone app to be will be launched on a trial basis in the next few days.

This content was published on May 6, 2020 - 11:48

The House of Representatives approved a proposal on Tuesday calling on the government to prepare a bill to be discussed at a later stage.

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The Senate had agreed a similar proposal on the first day of an extraordinary session of parliament to discuss government measures to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the debate, proponents argued that it is key to set clear rules for the use of such a tracking device, including data security and the voluntary principle for participants.

Opponents, including the government, argue a specific law is not necessary as current regulations are sufficient under the law on communicable diseases in force since 2016.

Scientists at the Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich and in Lausanne are developing a mobile phone application to be ready for use next week.

Parliament’s decision is unlikely to stop the launch of the app as no specific legal basis is necessary for trials.

However, experts say it takes at least 60% of the population to participate in the test phase to make the contact tracing efficient.

The health authorities plan to resume the tracking of patients infected with the Covid-19 virus next week. The mobile phone application is one of several methods used to protect the population from virus.

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