Demand NHSX spell out Covid-19 app privacy risks

The UK Government is trailing mobile “contact tracing” apps to track infections with a centralised database—but has failed to explain how privacy risks will be minimised. Other countries have chosen to preserve privacy by doing ‘proximity matching’ directly on people’s phones.

We’re pressing the Government to justify their contact tracing plan. We need your support to sustain our legal work.


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Too little too late

In May Open Rights Group (ORG) sent a legal letter to the Government demanding answers. In response, NHSX published a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA).

This DPIA arrived late—after public trials for the app had already begun—and significantly underestimated privacy risks. Threats such as the re-identification of users or the re-use of contact tracing data for other purposes, were merely listed without any discussion of safeguards.

There was also no explanation why users should be denied their rights to access or erase their personal data. These rights are fundamental to trust, especially as data could be used for research by commercial entities.

Deployment of a tool as sensitive as a contact tracing app must happen in consultation with the UK’s data protection authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). ORG is pushing for that as well as submitting amendments for a Coronavirus Safeguards Bill. Please support our work.

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The Story So Far

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 NSHX 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.
Read more

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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