The Parliament approved on Wednesday evening the StopCovid smartphone application, supposed to contribute to the fight against the epidemic, but deemed "liberticide" by its detractors, with a cleavage between deputies and right-wing senators and some dissonant voices at LREM.

The government intends to launch this digital tracking tool in the coming days, to support the second phase of deconfinement.

The deputies approved this controversial project by a comfortable majority, by 338 votes against 215, and 21 abstentions. In the Senate, after a debate, 186 senators voted for (majority of the LR group, LREM, Independent), 127 voted against (PS, CRCE with communist majority, major part of RDSE with radical majority) and 29 senators (mainly centrists) abstained.


As soon as it is downloaded, and each time the user meets a person within a meter, and this for more than a quarter of an hour, the phone records the references of the other person in an encrypted manner.

Thus, if one or the other comes to contract the Covid-19 during the following days, the user who has been in contact receives a notification informing him of this “risk of exposure” with advice on walking. to be continued

The government targets in particular the “active urban”, who take “public transport”, cross “unknown” in the stores…

The application uses the bluetooth function and not the geolocation.

Cédric O, secretary of state for digital technology and the linchpin of the device, estimated that the application would make it possible to fill certain gaps in the current strategy for detecting contact cases, particularly in transport or restaurants.

The guarantees surrounding this application

Before the Assembly and then the Senate in the evening, the Minister of Justice Nicole Belloubet insisted at length on the "guarantees" surrounding this "temporary, voluntary installation, non-identifying and transparent" application.

“This application is not intended to become the alpha and omega in the fight against Covid-19. Nor is it a pretext for the state to transform itself into a police state controlling the actions of our fellow citizens, "defended the Keeper of the Seals.

The application only works if both people have downloaded the application and are using it. On the other hand, StopCovid is anonymous and does not have access to the directory of the phone that hosts it.

Bruno Retailleau, leader of LR in the Senate, explained that a significant part of his support was due to the "digital sovereignty" of France, which chose not to use the tools designed by Apple and Google to follow up of contact cases. In fact, unlike other countries, the French government chose not to use Google and Apple solutions, and asked researchers from Inria, the French IT research institute.

The government, for its part, has repeatedly reminded the green light of the National Commission for Information Technology and Liberties (Cnil). This body estimated Tuesday that StopCovid respects the legislation relating to the private life, while demanding a regular evaluation and a detailed information for the users.

A dangerous and liberticidal tool ?

However, this application raises questions from its critics about respect for private life.

For Paula Forteza, digital expert and former member of the majority group, this application "presents significant technical risks", pleading for a "digital precautionary principle". She also denounced an effort intended to "force the social acceptability of this technology which digitizes our social interactions through a massive deployment driven by the State ”.

Philippe Gosselin, deputy (LR) of La Manche and member of the National Commission for Information Technology and Liberties (CNIL), meanwhile, denounced “the frog syndrome, guilty falling asleep, slouching in the fight against collective and individual freedoms ”. "Let's not create a precedent! ", He enjoined.

If this double positive vote in the National Assembly then in the Senate removes the last uncertainties on the future of StopCovid, the final decision returns to Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

Emily Jackson for DayNewsWorld