Government’s approach to NHS COVID-19 App is both a Privacy nightmare and a public health risk

Responding to news that an update to England and Wales’s contact tracing app has been blocked for breaking the terms of an agreement made with Apple and Google, Jim Killock, the Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, said: 

“The Government’s proposed changes to the NHS App would have a significant impact on user privacy. Unfortunately, the Government have not put in place any legal safeguards, and the ICO continues to be reluctant to challenge them. 

“While Apple and Google’s ability to prevent the Government from making changes should make us concerned, so should this Government’s propensity to grab surveillance powers and personal data, while reducing and ignoring oversight and claiming key safeguards such as impact assessments are just ‘bureaucracy’. 

“The Government’s attitude to privacy risks adversely impacting our health by undermining public trust.”



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Notes to the Editor: 

1- Matt Hancock told Parliament that DPIA’s were ‘bureaucracy’ and would not delay Test and Trace because of them. Since then, a series of data problems have emerged that should have been found in a properly conducted DPIA, including highlighting reliance on Excel spreadsheets to manage the system’s data.