02 July 2020
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) have issued a report card evaluating the Covid-19 tracker app prior to its launch.
They issue this report card in reference to the principled framework they and other experts published last month to guide the development of technology designed to curb the spread of Covid-19. Their report card now evaluates the HSE and the Department of Health’s adherence to each of the nine principles.
Regarding the app’s efficacy, experts have given the app a D. Dr Stephen Farrell, Research Fellow, School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin*, said:
“We have no clear evidence before us that the app accurately detects close contacts to Covid-19. In the alternative, our independent research shows that app signalling accuracy varies substantially depending on user environments.”
Regarding the app’s clear and limited purpose, experts have given the app a D. ICCL’s Information Rights Director Elizabeth Farries said:
“European data protection guidance says Covid-19 apps must pursue a single purpose of contact tracing to alert people potentially exposed to Covid-19. Unfortunately, location data and symptom tracking extend beyond this single purpose.”
Regarding the app’s statutory oversight, experts have given the app a C. Digital Rights Ireland Director Antóin Ó Lachtnáin said:
“We would question the legal basis of consent the government appears to be relying on under the GDPR. Furthermore, long term, we are very concerned that Google/Apple will have ultimate control over most of the EU’s Covid-19 app ecosystem, and not our governments.”
Despite the report card’s findings, experts commend the HSE and Department of Health’s good faith efforts towards transparency by publishing online much documentation in relation to the app’s development. We hope they continue to foster engagement by addressing the findings within this report card prior to the app’s release.
Notes for editors:
*Dr Farrell’s comments are his and not those of Trinity College Dublin.
Find our report card here:
Find experts’ principled framework published on June 3 here: https://www.iccl.ie/principles-for-legislators-on-the-implementation-of-new-technologies/
Find experts’ call for transparency on April 29 here:
For media inquiries and comment:
ICCL, Elizabeth Farries, Director of Information Rights, firstname.lastname@example.org, + 353 87 415 7162
Digital Rights Ireland, Antóin Ó Lachtnáin Director, +353 87 240 6691
Dr Stephen Farrell, Research Fellow, School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin, email@example.com