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States must assess the effectiveness of tracing applications, while complying with data protection standards

Debate: Contact tracing applications: ethical, cultural and educational challenges - Presentation by Mr Duncan BAKER, United Kingdom, EC/AD, rapporteur, AS/Cult.

According to PACE, the recourse to digital public health technologies must be part of a comprehensive national epidemiological strategy, “balancing all interests at stake” and “based on an evaluation of its real effectiveness”.

PACE recalled that over the past two years, governments and private companies have used in particular tracing applications for data collection and processing, in order to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic, identify subjects at risk of contamination or ensure compliance with containment rules.

By adopting a resolution, based on the report by Duncan Baker (United Kingdom, EC/AD), PACE asked the States to monitor the compliance of these new technologies with data protection standards. The collection and processing of personal and health data must be “justified by legitimate public health objectives” and “adequate and proportionate to achieving the intended goal”, the parliamentarians emphasised.

PACE also called on the authorities to inform the public about public health interventions, in particular regarding the impact and effectiveness of new digital technology, through parliamentary hearings and awareness campaigns, in order to build citizens’ trust.