New world. Refusing the StopCovid application is tantamount to questioning our health system, according to the director of the CNRS ethics committee.


A smartphone with a tracking application against the Covid-19 (illustration)
A smartphone with a tracking application against the Covid-19 (illustration) (MAXPPP)

The StopCovid application, which will be tested next week, aims to alert in the event of risk of contamination, by analyzing contacts between people via Bluetooth. The government has ruled out GPS location, which is considered too intrusive. He also dismissed the “turnkey” solution offered by Apple and Google. Despite these precautions, the application still raises as many concerns as regards privacy.

The computer scientist and philosopher Jean-Gabriel Ganascia, director of the CNRS ethics committee, believes that these fears are understandable but that they risk endangering the very principle of public health.

franceinfo: how to explain the concerns regarding the StopCovid application?

Jean-Gabriel Ganascia, director of the CNRS ethics committee : These concerns are quite natural because we have the feeling that we are going to be tracked with the smartphone that we all have in our hands. The very term tracking is not scary. But, at the same time, I think there is reason to keep and wonder whether, if you are careful and avoid abuse, these concerns are legitimate.

Already, we are tracked every day by our phone which records a lot of information. Above all, we are all satisfied with our state health system and, with a state system, unlike the United States, the state is necessarily aware of everything. The state knows which doctors we go to, what drugs we are prescribed, which hospitals we go to, etc. Of course, this must be done with a certain degree of confidentiality, but if we took certain current discourses seriously, it would jeopardize the health care system as it exists today. And that, I think it is not legitimate.

Between the fear of the StopCovid application and some fears about 5G, have we switched to a form of irrationality in relation to technology?

Science is often scary. The whole difficulty we have today, as scientists, is to explain that, of course, there are legitimate concerns, but scientists, among others, are there to enlighten people about these concerns . Scientific information should allow everyone to understand that in science there is nothing hidden, there is nothing secret. Everything can be presented simply. However, it takes time and it is not easy.

The rate of explanation of science in general, and of technology in particular, is not the same as that of information. So, I think that this requires very, very long-term education, so that everyone understands the dangers linked to the development of science. Some are real, and these dangers must be guarded against, but others are entirely imaginary. It is up to us to denounce them.


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