There are lots of questions doing the rounds about whether or not you should install the French version of the StopCovid app that launched on Google Play and in the App Store today.
I’m not going to go into that: we’re all adults, we make up own minds, and because it’s not mandatory, we get to make that choice.
This post is concerned with helping you through the installation process, which also gives you some insight into what information you’re required to provide and what you’re required to consent to (in privacy terms) in the steps before activating the app.
There are three main steps:
- Downloading the app
- Configuring the app
- Activating the app
Each of these is described in the sections below.
Step 1: Download the App to your Device
When you install the app you go the relevant app store (Google Play for Android and the App Store for Apple) and install it in the usual way.
The Apple version of the app looks like this in the store. Note that StopCovid is all one word and you also need to type “France” to find the relevant one for France.
Step 2: Configure the App
Once installed, there are a few setup screens to work through.
You start by clicking a blue button, Je veux participer (I want to participate).
Then next screen describes the next three steps.
- Activate the application.
- Stay informed.
- Protect others.
Click the Continuer button to begin.
2A. Accept the Confidentiality Agreement
First, there is one extra step, which is to accept the confidentiality agreement. To do this, scroll down the Confidentialité page, then click Accepter.
When you reach the bottom of this page you can click one of the links, which takes you to the source code or the full online version of the confidentiality agreement.
2B. Enable Bluetooth Detection
After approving the confidentiality agreement you come to the Detection step. For this to work, enable Bluetooth on your device then click Autoriser. On the iPhone you get a popup asking you to OK the sharing of data with other connected Bluetooth devices. The StopCovid app depends on data sharing with other devices to work, so click OK.
2C. Enable Notifications
Next, you come to the Notification screen; This is where you give the app permission to send you notifications. This means if someone you have been in proximity (which is defined as within 1 metre for more than 15 minutes during the last two-week period) you will receive an alert.
To set up notifications, simply click the Autoriser les notifications button.
As with the previous step, on the iPhone you will be asked to confirm that you would like to receive notifications from the all. Click Allow.
2D. Confirm that you understand the barrier gestures.
Next there’s a screen to remind you of the health precautions you should still be taking. Click C’est Note to move on to the next step.
Step 3. Activate the App
Now you’re ready to activate the app. You can see that until the button is pressed the app is deactivated, marked with a X and a red shield.
If you want to read the confidentiality agreement again or check/change your settings or delete any data collected by the app, scroll down the page and you will see two links that take you to these.
Otherwise, click J’active StopCovid to enable the app.
There may be a short wait while the app launches, then you see the view changes and the shield becomes green with a tick.
Deactivating the StopCovid App
Now the app has been setup, enabling it and disabling can be done one of two ways:
- By enabling/disabling Bluetooth.
- By opening the app and clicking the J’active StopCovid or J’désactive StopCovid button.
I think it’s interesting to note that at no point are you asked to provide any personal information (name, address, phone number) which means if you felt compelled to use the app but had strong objections on privacy grounds (and were also a little paranoid) you could get a PAYG SIM and use it on a “burner phone” that has Bluetooth. In the video I made that’s kind of what I did, because it’s a SIM-less iPhone that no longer connects to the mobile network thanks to a broken antenna, so I use it entirely for listening to podcasts and browsing the internet when I’m at home on WiFi. It also has Bluetooth, so with the app installed I can take it out of the house, if I like.
You could argue of course that the app knows who I am because I had to install it through my account (in this case my Apple.com account), so there’s that. I’m not even sure Apple have my address info and since no payment was required, they have no need for it, but I suppose in theory, if the French Government wanted to know who in France had downloaded their app they could demand this info from Apple and Google – but it’s definitely not information that is required (no account is needed) so, if you regularly download apps and games etc. and have never worried about this before, why start now?
Have you installed it?
So, having read how easy it is, have you decided to go ahead and install it? If not, what are your reasons for not doing it? Please send me your comments and feedback and I will try to address them in an upcoming FAQ on the app and how it works.