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Estonia: The “HOIA” coronavirus tracing app launched by the Ministry of Social Affairs

Estonia: The “HOIA” coronavirus tracing app launched by the Ministry of Social Affairs

NordenBladet – Estonia’s coronavirus exposure notification app “HOIA” launches today (August 20) and is now available to download. ERR News spoke to Priit Tohver, Ministry of Social Affairs adviser in the field of e-services and innovation, to find out what the app does and how you can use it.

“HOIA” has been created in voluntary cooperation between the Ministry of Social Affairs (Sotsiaalministeerium), the Health and Welfare Information Systems Center (Tervise ja Heaolu Infosüsteemide Keskus) and 12 Estonian companies – Cybernetica, Fujitsu Estonia, Guardtime, Icefire, Iglu, Mobi Lab, Mooncascade, Velvet, FOB Solutions, Heisi IT OÜ, Bytelogics and ASA Quality Services OÜ.

The purpose of the free app – which is optional and not mandatory – is to inform close contacts of those infected with the coronavirus and to provide them with initial instructions on how to proceed. Its aim is to limit the spread of coronavirus.

In this way, the user can quickly find out about possible close contact with a COVID-19 infected person, allowing them to take steps to protect their own health and the health of others.

It works because phones that use the app register Bluetooth signals from other nearby phones. If the signal is sufficiently close and long enough, an anonymous code referring to a close contact will be stored in their phone.

It is not possible to identify a person based on an anonymous code.

In order to use the app, you need a phone based on the Android or iOS operating system. For Hoia to function best, you need to use the close contact notification interface provided by Google and Apple.

Usability is limited to phones manufactured in the last 5 years. Android phones are suitable for all phones that support the Android 6.0 operating system. All Apple phones that support the iOS 13.5 operating system (from iPhone 6S) are compatible.

Earlier this year, when the app was first announced, Anett Numa, speaker at e-estonia briefing centre, wrote it will be based on the DP-3T protocol which has been developed by leading privacy experts and it is also in line with Apple and Google’s contact tracing API.

Estonia has chosen a “privacy-preserving path” to contact tracing, a key element of which is the principle of decentralisation that underpins several Estonian e-state solutions, she wrote.

Within this system, which is designed to adhere to recent EDPB recommendations, no entity will be able to store all of the tracing data and use it for any other purpose besides contact tracing.

Featured image: The “HOIA” coronavirus tracing app launched by the Ministry of Social Affairs. Source: Ministry of Social Affairs. 



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