Last updated on March 9, 2021
Markus Söder mocks her as a “toothless tiger” – and he's right. The Corona warning app has developed from a miracle weapon to a laughing stock. The main reason for the lack of effectiveness is the rigid data protection. In times of pandemics, Germany can no longer afford this luxury.
At the end of September, Angela Merkel warned: "If things continue like this", the Chancellor said in a CDU switching conference, Germany is threatened with 19,600 new corona infections daily at Christmas. At the time, many dismissed this as scare tactics – a specter that should encourage the population to increasingly adhere to the famous AHA rules and to be more careful when dealing with one another.
About a month later it is clear: Merkel's gloomy forecast for the future has long since been overtaken by the present. The Robert Koch Institute currently has 14,964 new infections, and the trend is rising. We could break the 20,000 new infections mark this week, which begs the simple question: How did it get to this point?
Corona warning app fails across the board
The skyrocketing numbers are due to the overloading of the health authorities, which in many places are no longer able to interrupt the chains of infection. The value of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants is not made out of thin air, but reflects this limit in the follow-up. This is exactly where the Corona warning app should help – and has so far failed across the board. Not even 500 people use the app every day to inform others about their positive results, reports the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation , citing “ThePioneer”. The app has been downloaded more than 20 million times so far.
In addition to the miserable user interface, which often causes more confusion than clarity, the disappointing result is primarily due to the strict data protection of the Corona warning app. The application collects useful data, but no health department can access it. In the hasty obedience of a small but noisy minority, the Corona warning app was artificially curtailed and robbed of its effectiveness. “Data protection has been optimized in such a way that even the hardliners are satisfied. That was probably the mistake, ”writes the mayor of Tübingen, Boris Palmer.
Asian countries rely on high tech to combat corona
Asian countries such as South Korea show that there is another way. Not only do they have better functioning corona warning apps, they also use other information such as GPS data or credit card information for contact tracing. With a population of almost 52 million, South Korea only had around 26,000 corona cases and 460 deaths – although it is geographically close to China, the country of origin of the pandemic. Despite Corona, life in South Korea continues mostly normally because the country relies on high tech to combat corona and not on "data protection-compliant" Stone Age methods like Germany.
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Data protection is not the royal flush of fundamental rights
"Human dignity is inviolable," says Article 1 of the Basic Law. Undoubtedly, this also includes the right to informational self-determination, at least since the far-reaching judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court in 1983. However, data protection is not the royal flush that trumps everything else in fundamental rights poker. Café and restaurant owners who fear for their livelihoods, cultural workers who are no longer given jobs, children and young people who are cheated of their educational opportunities and millions of retirees in old people's and nursing homes who can no longer see their families – that too affects them Human dignity.
In these Corona times, there is no one solution that will satisfy everyone. Politicians must weigh carefully and take the measures that cause the least harm. If a new lockdown can be prevented by easing data privacy a little, that's a price we should all pay.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and are not necessarily the position of the entire GIGA editorial team.