The Health Minister has said privacy has been put “right at the heart” of the new COVID Tracker app.
The app has been downloaded by more than 400,000 people since it became available overnight.
The app informs you if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said, “every single person who downloads this app makes Ireland safer.”
He said he can ‘categorically reassure’ people that their privacy and personal data will be fully protected if they download the app.
“Privacy is at the centre of this entire app,” he said. “What some governments have done is they have created a central database and your phone feeds information into a central database.
“This works the other way around. The information is kept on each individual phone.”
This morning we’re launching the Covid Tracker App. It’s a powerful tool in our fight to suppress Covid19.
I’ve just downloaded the app. Please take 2 minutes today and do the same. Every person who does helps protect us all. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/JFBZ2pOvh0
— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) July 7, 2020
He said privacy is built into the app at every point in the process.
“If you test positive, you will have a phone call with someone and they will talk you through the individual advice,” he said.
“In that call they will ask you if you have the app – there is not even a record of who has it.
“If you have the app, they will ask your permission for your phone to share the close contact information. Even at that point you can say no I don’t want to.
“When your phone then uploads the close contacts, it is done on an anonymised basis using encryption keys.
“So, at no point in the entire process is there a list of people that anybody can look at. It is done phone-to-phone, through encryption very, very sensitively in terms of privacy.
“So, to those people who have those concerns, I would say we have heard you loud and clear and put those concerns right at the heart of the design of this app.”
The COVID Tracker app is now available to download. It will help in the fight against coronavirus. Download the COVID Tracker app here: https://t.co/CUrWQ9QVvj
— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) July 7, 2020
He said the launch marks a “good news day on COVID” after so much loss of life in recent months.
“If I can just say this, please, please, please today, go on to the app store, download the COVID app,” he said.
“Every single one of us who does it makes our country safer and in particular, all of those men, women and children who are vulnerable to COVID, we are making all of them safer every time we download the app.”
He said previous research has indicated that 80% of the population was comfortable downloading the app and said he hoped to see as large an uptake as possible.
Newstalk Tech Correspondent Jess Kelly explains exactly how the app works here: