France Will Force all Public Businesses to have Customer-Tracking QR Codes at Their Doors

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 03: A shopper uses a QR code at the entrance of a store along The Corso in Manly on January 03, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Face masks are now compulsory in certain indoor settings across NSW as the state continues to record new COVID-19 cases in …
Jenny Evans/Getty Images

The French government will force all public-facing businesses to set up QR codes for customers to scan to keep track of those who entered in case of a coronavirus outbreak.

The QR codes, which can be scanned with a mobile phone, will replace physical sign-in books currently used to track and inform those who may have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the Chinese coronavirus.

According to a report from broadcaster BFMTV, the government will use the QR codes in conjunction with the “TousAntiCovid” (AllAgainstCovid) mobile phone app to trace possible infections at businesses deemed to be high risk, once those venues reopen.

At least 12.5 million people in France have downloaded the TousAntiCovid app, and the French government hopes that at least 15 million will install it. The app has tracked 99,000 positive coronavirus cases so far, notifying 54,000 contacts in the trace system.

Other countries have released similar tech, such as the UK. NHSX, the digital arm of Britain’s NHS, designed the app in partnership with the GCHQ intelligence agency last year.

Its launch sparked privacy concerns, but NHSX’s CEO, Matthew Gould, attempted to downplay privacy fears, saying: “We’re balancing privacy with the need for the public health authorities to get insight into what contacts are more risky.”

“It was our view that a centralised approach gave us some very important data that gives serious insight into the virus. We will keep it under constant review and if we need to change, we will,” Gould added.

Last April, France openly called on tech giants Apple and Google to remove privacy protections for its users to allow the government to track its citizens more easily.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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