Privacy and how we use your data
Privacy and data security is very important to the HSE.
The COVID Tracker app protects the privacy of all app users. The app was designed to protect your privacy.
Protecting your privacy
- does not collect your name, age or address
- does not hold your phone number unless you choose to share it
- cannot be used to track your location
- cannot be used to check if you should be self-isolating
- can only access information on your phone that you choose to allow
- cannot be used to identify your close contacts
- cannot be used to identify people who have tested positive for coronavirus
You choose what data you share
It's always your choice to:
- use the app or not
- share data and information with us or not
- change your preferences at any time in the app settings
- use parts of the app without sharing any data at all
- use, or not use, app features independently
- remove or update any information you provided to the app, at any time
Any data that the app collects is stored only on your phone. No one can access it unless you choose to share it.
Any data you do share can help health professionals know more about the virus and help stop it from spreading.
What data is collected
The app collects and uses a combination of personal data and anonymous data.
Personal data used by the app can be provided by:
- you (if you choose to provide it)
- your phone
Personal data you can choose to provide is your phone number, demographics and health-related data. You don't have to provide any this data if you don't want to.
Personal data provided automatically by your phone is your IP address. We do not need to use your IP address. We delete this data as soon as your phone sends it to us.
Your phone number
We will not know your phone number unless you choose to share it.
You may decide to share it if you want to get a follow-up call if you become a close contact of someone who has coronavirus.
You can enter your phone number into the app. You can change this setting at any time.
The app will only share your number with the HSE if you become a close contact. The HSE's contact tracing team will then phone you to arrange a test for coronavirus.
The app will also share the most recent date that you were in close contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus. This is so we can give you the right health advice based on how long ago it has been since you were exposed to the virus.
The contact tracing team are also given close contacts' phone numbers when they talk to people who have coronavirus. This means that you could get a phone call from them without sending them your number through the app.
Health and demographic information
If you use the COVID check-in symptom tracker on your phone we will ask you to share:
- the county or town you live in
- the age group you are in
- your gender
- your symptoms
If you share this information, it will be uploaded to the HSE and shared anonymously with the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
This information can help us to understand more about the spread of the virus
It's always your choice if you want to share this data or not. You can change what information you want to share at any time.
Your IP address is a unique set of numbers that identifies your phone or computer when you use the internet. IP addresses are used so you can send and receive information online.
Your IP address is automatically shared every time you use an app or visit a website.
We do not need to use your IP address. We delete it from our server as soon as we receive any data that you share with us from the app.
The anonymous data we collect includes:
- data about how you use the app
- data we use for contact tracing
Data about how you use the app
We collect data about how you use the app. This is called 'app metric data'.
We collect it to improve the app and to understand:
- how the app is being used
- its impact in helping slow the spread of the virus
This app metric data does not reveal your identity. But it's your choice if you want to share this data or not.
Data for contact tracing
For contact tracing to work, COVID Tracker uses technology developed by Apple and Google called Exposure Notification.
Exposure Notification enables your phone to generate and share anonymous IDs. These anonymous IDs are shared when you are in contact with other app users.
The app uses this anonymous data to tell:
- how long you are close to another anonymous app user
- the strength of other anonymous app users’ Bluetooth signal, to work out how far apart you were from them
This data will remain on your phone. It cannot be accessed by anyone unless you choose to share it. You will be asked if you want to share it with the HSE if you test positive for coronavirus.
Anonymous IDs shared with the HSE are deleted every 14 days. You can delete the app and all data held by it whenever you want.
We have worked with Apple and Google to ensure that the contact tracing functionality works effectively across the largest number of phones possible.
Third-party companies that process your data
For the app to work we use the services of a few companies. These third-party companies process some of the app's data, including your anonymous information.
Safe, secure and compliant
We have created the app based on EU guidelines, EU recommendations on privacy, HSE standards and data protection law.
This means the app:
- is safe and secure to use
- is legally compliant
- meets the standards expected to keep data secure and confidential
Contact tracing on the app is fully decentralised. The matching of anonymous random IDs happens on your phone. This means no one can track your location, your movements or who you have been in contact with.
Deleting your data
You can choose to delete the app and your data at any stage.
To do this:
- Go to 'Settings' in the app.
- Select 'Leave'.
- Tap on 'I want to leave'.
This will delete the app and your data.
When the government declares that the pandemic is over the app will no longer work. You will be encouraged to delete the app and all of its data. It will no longer be available to download from any app stores.
Contact our data protection officer
As part of our commitment to transparency, you can view the:
- Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)
- Data Protection Information Notice
- security designs
- privacy designs
- source code
- COVID-Tracker GitHub
Organisations from Ireland and around the world worked together to develop the Covid Tracker App. They included partnerships around:
- project governance and delivery
Project governance and delivery
- Department of Health
- Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, Department of Expenditure and Reform (OGCIO, DPER)
- An Garda Síochána
- Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)
- Economic and Social Research Institute Behavioural Research Unit (ESRI BRU)
- Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Services (IGEES)
- Decentralized Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (DP3T, Switzerland)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Private Automated Contact Tracing(MIT-PACT)
- Amazon Web Services
- Information Security Assurance Services (ISAS)