Dutch coronavirus app goes live nationally
The Dutch coronavirus app went online for all users across the Netherlands at the start of Saturday. The app, CoronaMelder, was in development for over six months, including two months of beta testing in five of the country's 25 security regions.
The text, “Stop the spread of the coronavirus, download CoronaMelder,” replaced the message on the official website for the app which earlier in the week had teased the 10 October launch.
CoronaMelder was produced for use on Apple iOS devices and for devices running Google's Android operating system. Downloading the app is not mandatory, and people cannot be forced by authorities, business owners, and facilities managers to show that they are using the app. The ministry wanted the app to assist the GGD municipal health services with source and contact tracing by notifying users when they have been near to someone who tested positive for a SARS-CoV-2 infection for longer than 15 minutes.
When a user receives a positive test, they have the option of linking that test to their installed version of the app. Via the app, the user can then anonymously notify all contacts of the positive test. The app works by using Bluetooth to track which other app users the device owner has been near.
The app does not log location data of any user, and does not share any personal data between users except for an encrypted user identification number, according to the ministry. Privacy issues have been a primary concern since the middle of April when the idea first picked up steam.
Another criticism of the app is that 1.47 million people in the Netherlands aged 12 and older are unable to use CoronaMelder, either because their phones run an older operating system, or because their phones do not run on iOS or Android. In approving the use of the app, the upper house of Dutch parliament passed a motion calling for CoronaMelder to be made available on a wider range of devices.
Earlier in the week, the Ministry of Health said the app had been installed 1.3 million times since the beta test began on August 17, even though it was delayed from its original September 1 start date.