A voluntary contact tracing app has been launched in Italy after being approved by the national body which regulates privacy, Italian Health Ministry said on Monday.
The app, called Immuni, "respects the Italian and European privacy norms” the Health Ministry statement says, and it can be downloaded for free from the Apple and Google stores.
Using Bluetooth technology, smartphones, which download the app, will exchange random codes, but not information that could identify devices' owners such as names, emails, phone numbers or GPS data.
"The app is able to determine that contact has taken place between two users without knowing who those users are and where the contact occurred," said the Milan-based company Bending Spoons, which developed the app.
When two smartphones which have installed the app and have Bluetooth activated are in proximity, they store each other's random code, taking note of the length of the meeting and the distance among the two devices.
If the device’s owner tests positive for Covid-19, with their consent a health care operator will transfer their device's encrypted code to a server, and then those individuals who also downloaded the app and have been is close contact with the infected person will receive a notification, the Health Ministry statement explained.
Users must be at least 14 years old to use the Immuni app, and those between 14 and 18 must have the authorization of at least one parent or legal guardian to download it.
Bending Spoons said “enormous focus” was placed on the protection of privacy. All data is encrypted and will be deleted “when no longer relevant“ and in any case “no later than December 31, 2020,” the app webpage said.
The first four regions to roll out the app starting June 8 will be Abruzzo, Liguria, Marche and Puglia, according to the Italian Health Ministry.