The corona crisis, data protection and tracking apps in the EU: the Czech and Austrian COVID-19 mobile phone apps in the battle against the virus

Keywords: geo-location tracking apps, COVID-19, data protection, data surveillance, liberal standards, Czech Republic, Austria


The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 put governments under pressure to swiftly introduce measures to protect citizens and react appropriately to the emerging threat. This paper focuses on geo-location tracking mobile phone applications developed in the Czech Republic and Austria to monitor personal movement of those positively tested for COVID-19 to prevent the further spread of the disease. The aim of the analysis is to answer the question of whether the appsʼ functionalities complied with the EU data protection standards and to what extent the citizensʼ right to control the collection, evaluation and preservation of their personal data has been violated. Both countries belonged to the pioneers in COVID-19 apps. While they differed in several areas such as the legal and political circumstances under which the apps were developed and public communication, similarities between them were identified in the area of public trust in the apps and their utilisation. In both countries, certain illiberal issues were recognised as well.

Author Biography

Jana Stehlíková, Prague University of Economics and Business, Czech Republic,

Jana Stehlíková is a PhD candidate in International Political Relations at the Faculty of International Relations, the Prague University of Economics and Business. She specialises in EU affairs, digital agenda and digital technologiesʼ impact on international relations, especially focusing on personal data protection, e-diplomacy, online platforms and disinformation in the European Union.

Research Articles