NHSX scraps centralised model for Covid-19 app

In a huge win for digital privacy, in June 2020 the UK Government scrapped plans to use a centralised model for its Covid-19 tracker app, opting for the decentralised model long advocated by Open Rights Group (ORG).

Vital funding from members and supporters enabled ORG to deliver key legal demands that helped convince the Government their centralised model was a privacy disaster.

The UK has averted the creation of a massive database of sensitive personal data that could be handed over to American Big Data companies vying for NHS patients’ data.

Not out of the woods yet

Even with the centralised model off the table, concerns remain. Employers may try to force people to use the app, and it’s not entirely clear whether Bluetooth matching is sufficiently accurate to track individuals’ exposure to the virus.

The Government also needs to do more to make people feel they should follow the app’s advice to get a test or isolate.

For these reasons, ORG will continue to push for a Coronavirus Safeguards Bill and challenge the Government on its very poor privacy practice elsewhere, such as with their manual Track and Trace programme.

The Story So Far

NHSX App delayed, but data protection still MIA

It finally happened: NHSX came to realise the issues surrounding their contact tracing app, and decided to switch to a decentralised approach.
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NHSX App: no news is bad news

Amid some confusion, reports would indicate that the NHSX contact tracing app may be released nationwide in less than two weeks.
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The ICO we want

Last week, Open Rights Group (ORG) found out that the Information Rights tribunal ceased their general stay.
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Demand strong legal safeguards for Contact Tracing

The NHSX is currently testing their digital contact tracing app in the Isle of Wight, and is set to release it nation-wide sometime soon.
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Something is rotten in the Information Commissioner’s Office

The COVID-19 test and trace system immediately hit the news for its dubious privacy policy, as well as the lack of a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA).
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NHSX tracking app Privacy Assessment: Key Concerns

NHSX finally released the Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) for their contact tracing app at the weekend.
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Hostile environment may stop migrants from using NHSX tracker app

This week the Government confirmed that the NHSX app being developed as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic is using a centralised contact matching system.
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Time for a Coronavirus Safeguards Bill

While we pause our weekly online discussions, we’ll keep you informed here on the fast moving debate over digital privacy and Covid-19.
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Contact tracing apps & vulnerable migrants: key concerns

In our recent blog we discussed the emerging privacy issues around contact tracing and ‘immunity passports’, and the announcement from Google and Apple that they are jointly working on a contact tracing app.
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Contact tracing and immunity passports must respect privacy

The government’s plans for contact tracing and immunity passports should respect privacy, both at a technical level and backed by legal safeguards.
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Contact tracing and immunity passports: questions for the government

We continue to hear bits and pieces about the way that mobile apps may be developed, and about the possibilities that Immunity Passports might come with intrusive database projects.
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Democracy and Covid-19

The Covid 19 epidemic has disrupted our economic and social life unlike anything seen in peacetime.
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The government must explain its approach to mobile contact tracing

Mobile data and contact tracing is a hot topic, as the UK and EU develop projects to provide privacy-protecting means of understanding who is at risk of infection.
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Open tech, privacy and Covid-19

From enabling strategies to curb the virus to empowering individuals to connect and work from home, digital technology is playing a vital role in the COVID-19 epidemic.
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In the Coronavirus crisis, privacy will be compromised—but our right to know must not be

At Open Rights Group (ORG), we want the government to succeed in its pursuit of the eradication of Coronvirus COVID-19.
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