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FSFE urges Denmark to make its contact tracing app free software

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  • FSFE urges Denmark to make its contact tracing app free software

    The European arm of the Free Software Foundation has urged Denmark to put its Smittestop contact tracing app under a free software license in accordance with the guidance issued by the World Health Organization. According to the Danish government, the source code is not being released to the public because of the supposed risk of security breaches but the FSFE has rebutted this saying that “IT security does not arise through an attackers’ ignorance of the system under attack”.

    [...]

    FSFE’s effort to have the app put under a free software license is a part of its wider Public Money? Public Code! campaign which urges governments to create legislation which would see any publicly financed software designed for the public sector to be made publicly available under a free software license. It argues that public bodies can benefit from each others' work which will lead to independence from single vendors, potential tax savings, more innovation, and better IT security.

  • Denmark keeps source code of Coronavirus tracing app secret

    Like many other European countries, Denmark also tries to track Sars-CoV-2 infections with a mobile phone tracing app. However, against advice by health organisations and despite positive examples by other countries, the app is proprietary, so not being released under a Free Software (also called Open Source) license.

    Smittestop, the official tracing app released by the Danish government, is supposed to supplement the more traditional ways of combatting the Coronavirus with contact tracing. But instead of releasing the source code of the app under a Free Software license and thereby empowering the public as well as the scientific community to inspect, verify, improve and experiment with it, the app's source code is kept hidden.

    This goes directly against the most recent recommendations from the WHO as well as the EU Commision's eHealth network. In the referenced paper, the WHO specifically states that:

    "There should be full transparency about how the applications and application programming interfaces (APIs) operate, and publication of open source and open access codes. Individuals should also be provided with meaningful information about the existence of automated decision-making and how risk predictions are made, including how the algorithmic model was developed and the data used to train the model. Furthermore, there should be information about the model's utility and insights as to the types of errors that such a model may make."

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