by Lucia Jadudova
N.B. – some information in this blog might be outdated given new governmental decrees enter into force on a very regular basis.
The compulsory state quarantine in Slovakia received many complaints. (See my previous blog for the analysis). As a result, the Slovak government decided to implement a “smart quarantine”.
Smart quarantine refers to a mobile app called eKaranténa. It allows for a 14-day long home quarantine and provides possibility to avoid a state facility quarantine. However, individuals must use the app which checks the compliance with the home quarantine. It is based on explicit consent of an individual. In case the individual does not agree, he will have to spend the quarantine in a state facility.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The app shall be downloaded before crossing the borders and several documents and personal data shall be provided beforehand. An explicit consent form has to be signed. In case of a minor under the age of 16, the app is downloaded by one parent who signs the consent on behalf of the minor. The app is activated by a policeman at the border. The individual has to arrive at the border between 8:00-18:00. If a person arrives in a different time, there will be no staff who could activate the app. After crossing the border, the person has 8 hours to travel to the place of his home quarantine.
During the quarantine, the app requests the individual to show his face in irregular times. The app uses face biometry recognition via the camera to check whether the person is near his phone all the time. The pictures taken are stored on the phone and are not sent to any public authority (https://korona.gov.sk/podmienky-ochrany-sukromia-ekarantena/). Wi-fi or mobile data must be on during the whole duration of the quarantine.
After three days of the quarantine, the person must sign up for a COVID-19 test. Even in case of a negative result, the 14-day long quarantine is not shortened.
The app tracks the phone’s location via GPS. The person must state the address of his home quarantine as well as mark it on a map in the app before crossing the borders. In case the person leaves the home location with his phone, an automatic notification will be sent to competent public authority which might check the individual in person. In case of non-compliance with the home quarantine a fine may be imposed up to 1,659 euro (https://korona.gov.sk/podmienky-ochrany-sukromia-ekarantena/). Non-compliance also happens in case the person switches the phone to flight mode, uninstalls the app, turns off the GPS location, spends home quarantine in a place without mobile phone signal or in case he does not let the app check his face. (https://korona.gov.sk/ekarantena/).
Moreover, any person who lives in the same household must undergo the home quarantine as well. The only exception is in case someone picks the person up at the border and wears a facemask type FFP2/KN9. (https://korona.gov.sk/ekarantena/). (N.B. please note this might change depending on new governmental decrees)
PRIVACY – PERSONAL DATA PROCESSED
In general, the app is following the recommendation of the European Commission (find it here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/recommendation_on_apps_for_contact_tracing_4.pdf). The app aims to minimise the processing of personal data. For example, the precise GPS location is not sent to any authority. Even in case the phone is not located in the home quarantine address, the public authorities only get a notification that there is a potential non-compliance; the actual GPS location is not shared (https://korona.gov.sk/podmienky-ochrany-sukromia-ekarantena/). After the end of the 14-day quarantine, the person may uninstall the app. The personal data provided will be deleted on 31st December 2020 the latest. However, the personal data may be used for statistical and research purposes. Moreover, the servers of the app are located in the EU, hence any transfer to third countries which may provide for lighter data protection is very limited.
From reading the terms and conditions of the processing of personal data, it appears that the app is limiting the intrusion with privacy as much as possible. It is recognisable that there is focus on compliance with the general principles of the GDPR, such as data minimisation and storage limitation. The processing of personal data is based on a lawful ground, namely explicit informed consent which has to be signed. The link to the terms and conditions is provided on the consent form. The terms and conditions are written in a clear language, even though, this might be subjective as I just finished a course on GDPR. Let’s hope the users of the app will read the terms and conditions fully in order to be informed of their rights. Let’s hope in case any violations of rights occur, the individuals concerned will stand up and use their right in practice, such as complaining to the national Data Protection Authority.