France is set to launch its coronavirus contact-tracing app as soon as the weekend after it cleared two parliamentary votes.

The country’s Senate approved its release by a vote of 187-to-127 on Wednesday evening, following an earlier 338-to-215 National Assembly vote.

A bug bounty scheme will be run to encourage the public to help identify any flaws in the software.

But critics claim it suffers from a “fundamentally flawed design”.

The StopCovid app will supplement work already being done by a French team of human contact tracers who are trying to identify people who are infected with the disease but unaware of the fact.

The app works by using Bluetooth signals to detect when two handsets are in close proximity, in order to log an estimation of the distance and length of the encounter.

France, like the UK, has opted for a “centralised” app, which carries out contact matches on a computer server.

That contrasts with the “decentralised” model – an approach advocated by Google and Apple – which carries out matches on users’ own devices.

The main differences between the two are that centralised apps provide the authorities greater scope to delve into gathered data to refine their approach to tackling the pandemic, while decentralised ones in theory promise users a greater degree of anonymity and privacy.

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