August 8, 2020

Coronavirus: Ireland and UK opt for different tracing approaches

The Republic of Ireland has opted for a virus contact-tracing phone app backed by Apple and Google, which it says “maximises the protection of privacy”.

The approach differs from the UK’s, raising questions over how it might affect cross-border operations with Northern Ireland.

Ireland’s health minister said it was “ensuring continuing alignment with the EU guidance” on data protection.

But Simon Harris added that the option should also be the most effective.

As countries around the world have raced to develop contact-tracing apps for mobile phones, two paths have opened up – one model which does the contact-matching on a person’s device, and another where it is done on a central server.

Privacy advocates say the device-based model is less intrusive and less open to abuse.

The UK is understood to be working towards a centralised model, which it believes will offer more insight into the disease.

Many other countries are opting to use the system backed by Apple and Google, which between them run the software on almost all of the world’s smartphones.

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