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Any Corona tracking app must be used voluntarily and be Free Software

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The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) demands that the use of tracking technologies that aim at breaking the chains of disease infection may only be promoted on a voluntary basis, fundamental rights must be respected and the software must be published under a Free Software licence.

In recent days there have been increasing debates about the use and development of apps that aim at helping to contain the corona virus by tracking new infections and their contact persons. With the help of a contact diary it is possible to record who met with whom and when. If a person is infected with the corona virus, their contacts are informed and asked to isolate themselves and to take further actions, if necessary. It will hopefully be possible to break the chain of infection and thus reduce the infection rate. In some countries, there are also discussions about mandatory use of this app, which would interfere with people's right to control their technology and thus their privacy.

The Free Software Foundation Europe demands that any such app may only be introduced on a voluntary basis and the software must be published under a Free Software licence, sometimes also called Open Source. Any medical records and data must be placed under the highest priority of data protection. Only Free Software offers enough transparency to validate complete data protection and compliant use; thus trust can be established. A majority of investments in the current crisis and a lot of actors in the medical sector are state-funded, and publicly financed. The FSFE is campaigning that software developed for the public sector must be made publicly available under Free Software licences, as hundreds of organisations and tens of thousands of people demand.

Global problems need global solutions and it is only Free Software that enables global code development in a legally safe cooperative environment. Any proprietary solution will inevitably lead to countless isolated solutions and thereby waste energy and time.

Besides global cooperation, Free Software licences allow sharing of code in any jurisdiction. Solutions developed in one country can be reused and adpated in another one. International development agencies and humanitarian movements can help to contain the spread of COVID-19 in any country around the world with Free Software solutions.

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