virus tracing app

Slovenians infected with the novel coronavirus or undergoing quarantine will soon be obliged to use a mobile phone contact tracing app, after parliament backed the measure late on Thursday.

The government says it expects the app to be ready within weeks and that it will be similar to those used in other EU countries including Germany, though it has not yet decided on the technology it will use.

Those who have tested positive for the virus or who are in quarantine will have to install the app on their phones or face fines of up to 600 euros ($675).

“Until an effective medicine or vaccine for coronavirus is developed, the introduction of such an application is most probably the only way to preserve the life we’re used to,” Prime Minister Janez Jansa tweeted earlier this week.

However, Slovenian media have raised questions over the new measure.

One of the technologies used by other countries is an app designed by Apple and Google, and officials have been talking to the two companies.

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But the US tech giants have said governments cannot oblige people to use their technology.

Slovenia’s Information Commissioner, which oversees the protection of personal data, has also warned that “only a voluntary installation of the application is acceptable”.

Despite the controversy, the bill, proposed by the ruling four-party centre-right coalition, was approved by 50 votes in the 90-seat parliament, with 23 voting against.

Although initially successful in containing the coronavirus epidemic, Slovenia has been reintroducing some restrictions in recent weeks in reaction to a spike in new cases, most of them among younger citizens.

The country of two million people has registered almost 1,800 cases and 111 deaths from the virus.



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