Brussels company tasked with developing Belgian ‘Covid-19 app’
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    Brussels company tasked with developing Belgian ‘Covid-19 app’

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    A Covid-19 ‘track-and-trace’ app, to be developed by Brussels-based tech company Devside, will notify Belgian users when they have been in touch with a person infected with the coronavirus.

    The app was ordered by the Belgian inter-federal committee on testing and tracing. It is set to be released in September, and can be used in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels.

    The Devside team, headed by the chair of the testing and tracing committee Karine Moykens, will develop a system that will track infected people as soon as possible so they can be quarantined, and register people they have been in close contact with.

    The app will run on Bluetooth-technology developed by professor and encryption specialist Bart Preneel. Its functioning will be similar to the German Covid-19 track-and-trace app, ‘Corona Warn’.

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    The order will be confirmed on Wednesday by the Interministerial Committee. No further details on the content or functioning of the app have been made public yet.

    In June, Apple and Android added a system-update in preparation of Covid-19 track-and-trace apps. The update prepared users’ Bluetooth-settings for future communication with government apps.

    Earlier this month, the Belgian privacy watchdog announced its concern with the app, questioning whether the government decided to give up on privacy. In April, the watchdog urged the European Union to take action for the development of an EU-wide Covid-19 track-and-trace app, that would respect users’ privacy.

    At the start of July, the Netherlands initiated testing trials for a similar tracking app.

    Maïthe Chini & Amée Zoutberg
    The Brussels Times