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Map: COVID-19 Contact Tracing Apps (PDF, 550KB)

Jurisdictions Surveyed:
The Americas: Argentina | Brazil | Mexico
East Asia, South Asia and Pacific: Australia | China | India | Japan | South Korea | Taiwan
Europe and Central Asia: European Union | England | France | Iceland | Italy | Norway | Portugal | Russia | Spain | Turkey
Middle East and Africa: Iran | Israel | South Africa | United Arab Emirates

Argentina

Argentina declared a state of health emergency due to COVID-19 on March 12, 2020, and adopted a mandatory lockdown. The law on data privacy governs the management of health information under the health emergency. The Ministry of Health has launched the CuidAR COVID-19 free application for mobile phones, for self-diagnosis and health care guidance. It is also used to process the Unique Circulation Enabling Certificate, which allows certain people to circulate amid the lockdown. It is also used to track the spread of the virus through geo-localization. Its use is not mandatory, except for travelers entering the country and those exempted from the lockdown and returning to work.

I. Introduction

Argentina declared a state of health emergency due to the COVID-19 epidemic for one year through the Decree of Necessity and Urgency [DECNU] 260/2020 starting on March 12, 2020.[1] It further mandated a lockdown through DECNU 297/2020, until March 31, 2020, which was extended until May 24, 2020.[2] The lockdown was to remain in place in Buenos Aires through at least June 7.[3]

There were 9,931 Covid-19 cases in Argentina as of May 22, 2020, and 419 deaths, according to the report from the government, which is updated daily.[4] This information is available in a New COVID-19 dedicated section in the Ministry of Health website, where all information, recommendations, FAQs, etc., are available.[5]

Of a population of almost 45 million,[6] there are approximately 40 million mobile phone users in Argentina, and 1.3 million users have already downloaded and used the government app CuidAR COVID-19, which is managed by the Ministry of Health and aimed at the protection and care of citizens against the COVID-19 pandemic.[7]  No survey results on Argentinians’ willingness to share personal data were located.

II. Legal Framework

A. Privacy and Data Protection

The Agency for Access to Public Information (AAIP) has issued an statement on the treatment of health-related private information under the current health emergency, which must be carried out in compliance with data privacy rules under Ley 25326 de Protección de Datos Personales (LPDP).[8]

The fundamental principles of the LPDP applicable to personal health data are as follows:

•    Health data are considered sensitive and therefore warrant more rigorous protection.[9]

•    The disclosure of the identity of a Covid-19 patient requires his or her consent.[10]

•    Health care facilities and professionals can process and transfer patient data to each other only under professional confidentiality standards.[11]

•    Professional confidentiality will remain effective even after the relationship with the patient has ended.[12]

•    To use patient information for purposes other than his or her medical treatment, the patient must give a full, free and informed consent.[13]

•    The National and Provincial Ministries of Health have the authority to request, collect, and transfer to each other or, in any other way, process health information without the patient’s consent, in accordance with their explicit and implicit competences assigned by law.[14]

•    Any person who considers that his or her privacy or personal data is being affected has the right to file a complaint with the AAIP.[15]

B. Location Tracking

Under DECNU 260/2020, the Ministry of Health is empowered to adopt all recommendations and measures necessary to mitigate the health impact of the COVID-19 epidemic.[16] It further provides that the Ministry of Health is required to provide information to the public about the epidemic , regarding the spread, containment, and mitigation of the virus, while always keeping affected people’s identity confidential and complying with professional secrecy standards.[17]

The public health measures taken within the authority granted under DECNU 260/2020 have to be the least restrictive of rights as possible and should be based on acceptable scientific criteria.[18] People affected by these measures will be guaranteed their rights, especially the right to be informed about their health status, the right to nondiscrimination in access to health care, and the right to dignified treatment.[19]

Violations of measures adopted under the health emergency are subject to applicable administrative sanctions or to criminal penalties provided under the Penal Code, such as imprisonment for six months to two years.[20]

III. Electronic Measures to Fight COVID-19 Spread

The Ministry of Health has launched the CuidAR COVID-19 free app, available on iOS and Android systems.[21] On its first day of operation, it had more than 100,000 users, and 500,000 auto tests were carried out.[22]

This app allows people to diagnose themselves through a platform and then receive recommendations on the steps to follow if they have symptoms that coincide with the coronavirus and information on care and prevention.[23] The new app enables a user to check symptoms related to the disease without the need to leave home, avoiding the need to go to a medical center and potentially spread the virus, thus easing the strain on the health care system.[24]

The CuidAr-COVID-19 app requires the user to enter his or her personal data and mobile number and share their geo-location. In addition, the address, locality and province where the person is undergoing quarantine must be declared, to enable the health emergency protocol to be activated if necessary.[25]

To perform the self-diagnosis, the user must answer questions about his or her body temperature, other symptoms, and preexisting diseases.[26]

The app also provides access to the Unique Circulation Enabling Certificate, which allows its holder to circulate when meeting the requirements for the exceptions to the circulation restrictions issued by the government during the health emergency.[27]  

The app includes a special section on the use of personal data in its terms and conditions, where the user has the option to give consent to the release of personal health data. The information provided is protected by law and is for the exclusive use of the health authorities.[28]   

For people who enter the country from abroad, the use of the app is mandatory for a period of 14 days, according to Disposición 1771/2020 of the Dirección Nacional de Migraciones [DNM].[29] In the case of minors or people with disabilities, the father, mother or legal representative will have to complete the required data on their behalf.[30]

The DNM has the authority to require travelers prior to entering the country and travelers who return from abroad to comply by downloading the app or entering the information requested on the app website, which informs its users about the terms and conditions for its use.[31]

Once downloaded, Decisión Administrativa 432/2020 requires the traveler to keep it installed and active for a minimum period of 14 calendar days from its activation.[32] This allows the DNM to collect the data related to COVID-19 through the app, taking into consideration data privacy protections under Ley 25326.[33]

The measure provides the technological tools required by the Ministry of Health in the identification, monitoring, and control of potential COVID-19 infection cases.[34]

The use of the app will also be mandatory for those who return to work.[35] Using the app for the Unique Circulation Enabling Certificate will automatically grant its holder permission to circulate during the quarantine.[36] This will be valid exclusively for those whose work falls within the exceptions of quarantine according to the latest official announcements.[37]

The app drew some criticism because of concerns that the government may be able to geo-locate people all the time through the GPS of cell phones with the app, with the potential of turning it into a tool of social control.[38]

In response to these concerns, the government indicated it would change the app to remove the possibility of tracking the user at all times, but rather only sending the location data when using the app. Government officials stated that this change would become effective mid-May. [39] 

The Ministry of Health also created the Database COVID-19 in order to centralize the information collected on the national epidemiological situation, optimize health policies, and enhance the operational quality of the CuidAR COVID-19 app.[40]

The database will allow the information collected from the app to be stored and centralized both in its versions for Android or iOS mobile devices and in its web version.[41] In compliance with the requirements of the LPDP, the creation of the database must state the specific purpose of the collected data, the persons whose data will be collected, whether the information released is optional or compulsory, the means for obtaining and updating the data, the structure of the file, a description of the nature of the personal data included, the data-sharing entities, the authorities responsible for the archive, and a statement as to the authority in charge of claims pertaining to the individual rights of access, correction or deletion.[42] Authorities will also have to specify how they plan to delete the automated registries and the measures that will be adopted for their destruction.[43]

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Prepared by Graciela Rodriguez-Ferrand
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
June 2020


[1] Decreto de Necesidad y Urgencia (DECNU) 260/2020, art. 1, Mar. 12, 2020,  Boletín Oficial [B.O.] 34327, https://perma.cc/2VEH-G6SF.

[2] DECNU 297/2020 Aislamiento Social Preventivo y Obligatorio, Mar. 19, 2020, B.O. 34334, https://perma.cc/9QFN-CJ68, and DECNU 459/2020 Extensión, May 11, 2020, B.O. 34377, https://perma.cc/8KB6-GNLA.

[3] DECNU 493/2020 Aislamiento Social Preventivo y Obligatorio Extensión, B.O. May 25, 2020, https://perma.cc/Q3AX-6TVC.

[4] Ministerio de Salud, Informe Diario Coronavirus  (May 22, 2020),  https://perma.cc/68DY-5GQQ.

[5] Covid-19 Information, Ministerio de Salud, https://perma.cc/BU7D-6SGQ.

[6] Population, Argentina, World Bank, 2019, https://perma.cc/2ZFT-ATYD.

[7] Cómo Funciona CuidAR, la Nueva App de Coronavirus Argentina, Ambito (May 11, 2020), https://perma.cc/H3UJ-4VNP.

[8] Ley 25326 de Protección de Datos Personales, Nov. 2, 2000, B.O. 29517, https://perma.cc/NE2W-72LH, and Tratamiento de Datos Personales ante el Coronavirus, AAIP (Mar. 11, 2020), https://perma.cc/SB6R-DQZ5.

[9] Ley 25326 arts. 2 & 7.

[10] Id. art. 5.

[11] Id. art. 8.

[12] Id. art. 10.

[13] Id. arts. 4.3 and 5.

[14] Id. arts. 5.2 and 11.3.b.

[15] Id.

[16] DNU 260/2020 art. 2, paras 1 & 16; art. 20.

[17] Id. art. 3.

[18] Id. art. 21.

[19] Id.

[20] Id. art. 22 and Código Penal art. 205, Nov. 3, 1921, B.O. 8300, https://perma.cc/J3BJ-PPAJ.

[21] COVID-19, Ministerio de Salud, https://perma.cc/34XX-C5FS.

[22] Martín Torino, Coronavirus: La App para Detectar Síntomas Sumó 500,000 Autotests en su Primer Día, Cronista (Mar. 24, 2020), https://perma.cc/EJV5-P4SE.

[23] Cómo Funciona CuidAr la Nueva App de Coronavirus Argentina, Ambito (May 11, 2020), https://perma.cc/FM2A-CNYL.

[24] Id.

[25] Id.

[26] Id.

[27] Id.

[28] Id.

[29] Disposición 1771/2020, Aplicación COVID-19—Ministerio de Salud. Obligatoriedad de Uso para Toda Persona que Ingrese al País, Dirección Nacional de Migraciones, Mar. 26, 2020, B.O. 34339, https://perma.cc/P6YT-UMTW.

[30] Decisión Administrativa 432/2020, Aplicación Covid-19—Ministerio de Salud, art. 2, Mar. 24, 2020, B.O. 34337, https://perma.cc/XKK4-YUKW.

[31] Id. art. 3.

[32] Id. art. 6.

[33] Id. art. 7.

[34] Coronavirus: App para Autodetectar Síntomas Será Obligatoria para los que Lleguen del Exterior, Cronista (Mar. 24, 2020), https://perma.cc/5NMW-L4YF.

[35] Cómo Funciona la App CuidAR, de Uso Obligatorio para Quienes Vuelven al Trabajo Durante la Cuarentena, Nación (May 11, 2020), https://perma.cc/L8LB-9TMQ.

[36] Id.

[37] Id.

[38] Control Social Coronavirus en Argentina: El Gobierno Analiza Cambios en la App CuidAR, para Limitar el Monitoreo de la Gente, Clarín (May 11, 2020), https://perma.cc/ZK4V-8NU3.

[39] Id.

[40] Disposición 3/2020, Jefatura de Gabinete de Ministros, art. 1, May 5, 2020, B.O. 34374, https://perma.cc/8JEY-NFZX.

[41] Id.

[42] Id. and LPDP art. 22.

[43] Id.

Last Updated: 12/30/2020