Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka (SDP) says any mobile solution for tracing coronavirus infections would have to be voluntary. (Mikko Stig – Lehtikuva)


MINISTER OF TRANSPORT and Communications Timo Harakka (SDP) has offered his thoughts on the possibility of utilising a mobile app to trace coronavirus infections in Finland.

Harakka on Monday explained in his blog that the objective is to utilise mobile phones and smartphones to identify people who have come into contact with a carrier before the carrier became aware of their infection and was ordered into quarantine.

A “reliable” national app, he said, is being developed by the Ministry of Transport and Communications and National Cyber Security Centre, together with Futurice, Reaktor and Supercell.

Tracing infections is key for the so-called hybrid approach to combating the pandemic that has produced results in, for example, South Korea and is being considered in Finland. The approach can be divided into two distinct stages: slowing down the spread of the virus with restrictions and, then, relaxing and lifting the restrictions gradually while keeping the virus in check.

Sampo Paasanen, the CEO of Reaktor Finland, said Germany is about to launch a mobile service to identify chains of exposure. The open-source service, he added, would also be available to Finland.

Harakka on Monday listed four conditions for launching such a service in a democratic society such as Finland: its us must be voluntary, data security must be impeccable, adoption rate must be at least 60 per cent and the public and private sectors must be willing to co-operate.

“It’s wholly necessary that citizens have a positive attitude towards the solution. In the European Union, the level of data security is high – as it should be because we’re talking about a basic European value. This is why tracing contacts digitally can only be based on user consent. The collected data must be definitely safe in the voluntary service,” he wrote.

He pointed out that the app would only be beneficial if it was adopted widely enough, by at least 60 per cent of the population.

“That’s a challenging challenge, as we politicians tend to say. The Finnish 112 app has been downloaded 1.6 million times, but an adoption rate of 60 per cent would require three million users in Finland,” he said.

One possible hurdle for reaching the adoption rate is that over 70-year-olds, who are in particular need of protection from the virus, often require help with digital services.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi