Luca, the anti-Covid app that the German police feel a little too fond of

In Mainz, police identified witnesses to a fatal accident using data stored by the anti-Covid app Luca. An illegal method, which has revived the debates on the merits of such a tracking app.

“What had to happen has finally happened”, sigh it Southgerman newspaper. After the fatal fall of a man in front of a bar in Mainz last November, the German police crossed a red line: they recovered the personal information of twenty-one possible witnesses via the Luca application, used initially to identify the contact cases and people positive for Covid-19. “The use of this data for police investigations is however expressly prohibited.”

For the center-left newspaper, it was only a matter of time before such an incident occurred. “Here we have the consequences of managing the pandemic which relies on a technique whose effects are not perceived at all by those in charge, he explains. There have been enough warnings against Luca, an application that thirteen Länder have had their hands on – among others by rapper Smudo […], who is one of its investors – and which few administrations still use. ”

Developed by a private company, the application is mainly criticized for its method of data storage, considered unreliable. If they are encrypted, the information of Luca users is in fact stored and centralized on private servers, belonging to the Berlin start-up Culture4Life. German health authorities can access it using a decryption key, but they do not need the prior consent of the persons concerned.

Fuel mistrust

In these times of pandemic, these reproaches have however been put aside by political leaders. “They blindly turned to technology”, parse the title, for whom “Masses of data always arouse greed”. The Mainz police claimed to have misinterpreted the legislation in force, but, for the media, it especially gave in to the facility.

In a country marked by mass Stasi surveillance, the political police of the RDA, such carelessness raises questions. Following the Mainz affair, the region of Schleswig-Holstein decided to sever its partnership with the app. The twelve other Länder having recourse to Luca will have to give their opinion on the subject in the coming weeks.

According to the Southgerman newspaper, their decision will have a clear impact on “The confidence of the Germans” and their future attitude to health restrictions.

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