A European approach to COVID-19 apps? A landscape analysis of apps stores in the initial stages of the health crisis
Keywords:COVID-19, mobile apps, European policy, data protection, contact tracing, public sector
This article explores to what extent a European approach can be identified in the COVID-19 mobile apps landscape that surfaced in the initial stages of the crisis. Based on information collected from the two most prominent app stores (Google Play for Android-powered devices and Apple’s App Store for iOS-powered devices) between April and August 2020, we examine differences between COVID-19 related apps released in European countries and elsewhere in the world. The article focuses on two aspects: the involvement of actors from the public sector in releasing COVID-19 related apps and the measures implemented for personal data protection. The findings suggest that differences exist according to the geographical context in which apps were released and the specific functions they perform. We identify specific trends in Europe that confirm a stronger emphasis on data protection than what happened on a global scale, and to a certain extent a greater involvement of the public sector through health authorities.
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