German minister says tracking apps to tackle coronavirus must be voluntary

German Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection Christine Lambrecht attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Berlin, Germany, November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht told Deutschlandfunk radio on Tuesday that tracking apps to help tackle coronavirus could only be used voluntarily in Germany, where people are deeply suspicious of digital surveillance.

“It’s a real infringement if I have such data so I can only agree with everyone who says that if there is such a solution that actually breaks the chains of infection, it’s only possible if those who have it on their mobile phones and so use it do so voluntarily,” Lambrecht said.

Germany hopes to launch a smartphone app within weeks to help trace coronavirus infections, after a broad political consensus emerged that adopting an approach pioneered by Singapore can be effective without invading people’s privacy.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Madeline Chambers