This post is part of a series on contact tracing apps. You can read our introduction to the series here and get links to the other entries below. 

In our last blog post, we talked about the legal aspects that businesses should bear in mind when considering using contact tracing apps as part of a screening process to ensure the health and safety of their workplace. 

The question addressed by this blog post is whether, in light of the recent legislative developments, the use of such apps may be imposed on or by businesses in the near future.

In its guidelines on the use of location data and contact tracing tools in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has underlined the fact that the use of contact tracing apps will result in a systematic monitoring of contacts between individuals and/or their location on a large scale, which represents a significant intrusion in the individuals’ privacy. Therefore, the EDPB considers that the use of contact tracing apps can only take place on a voluntary basis.

In Belgium, a draft law regarding the introduction of contact tracing apps has been tabled with the Chamber of Representatives and is currently under discussions.

According to the draft law, contact tracing apps will be installed, used and uninstalled on a voluntary basis and will in no event be imposed on individuals. 

To ensure the voluntary nature of the use of contact tracing apps, the draft law further states that the decision of each individual to use or not use, install or uninstall the contact tracing apps will not lead to any advantage or disadvantage and, in particular, will not, in any case, lead to any civil or criminal sanctions.

On 28 April 2020, Belgium's data protection authority (DPA) issued a critical opinion (opinion 34/2020) regarding a draft royal decree (in the meantime the draft law has emerged) relating to the use of tracing apps as a preventive measure to slow the further spread of COVID-19. 

On that occasion, the DPA underlined the importance of the contact tracing app operating on a voluntary basis and recommended, in particular, that the text provides for civil, administrative or criminal sanctions for individuals who would impose the use of the contact tracing apps as a condition to access a place or a service. 

Even though this recommendation was not reflected in the draft law, the explanatory memorandum of the latter provides that employers will not be able to impose the use of contact tracing apps to their employees.

At this stage and in view of the proposal that is on the table, there is no clear evidence that the use of contact tracing apps may become mandatory in the near future.

Other posts in this series: