NHSX are a joint unit who “drive the digital transformation of care.” They have produced a resolution to potentially help ease the restrictions and end lockdown sooner, without risking public safety in the form of a contact-tracing app. On 5 May 2020, the app launched on the Isle of Wight, and if effective, it will be available to the rest of the UK.
The rationale behind the app is to alert people “if they have been in close contact with someone who later reports positive for Covid-19.” From this, individuals will be able to comply with social distancing measures much quicker, resulting in less chance of the virus being spread.
Although seemingly idyllic for our health but what does this mean for our data?
Privacy experts have concerns regarding data being compromised. “Dr Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, head of the Computational Privacy Group at Imperial College London, has warned that such apps could “collect sensitive information like location data”.”
Further, evidence has been heard by the Joint Human Rights Committee, “that despite the app anonymising users’ identities, they could in theory be re-identified, which might allow the authorities – or even hackers – to reveal people’s social circles for other purposes.”
In the Observer’s Opinion poll, “A narrow majority of 52% of people…were likely to download the app”. Leading academics from the development team have advised, “60% of the population will need to download it for it to work properly.”
Rightly so, this has created a great deal of uncertainty and highlights the need for protection of individuals’ data. In the same way, the Government were given sweeping powers so rapidly in the immediate aftermath to COVID-19, parliament must ensure that one’s privacy remains protected whilst also achieving the goal of an adequate tracing policy.
Will you be downloading the app?