In a bid to help public health officials stay on top of the coronavirus pandemic, the NHS has developed an app that would alert users if they have recently been in contact with an infected individual. This comes from U.K. Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock, who reveals that the platform is still currently in the testing phase. However, tech pundits are bringing up issues of user privacy as to how the system will collect and transmit data to the proper channels.
Therefore, to ensure that it does not violate any regulation, there are certain steps in place to focus on this matter. With the help of renowned tech outfits, clinical safety experts, as well as specialists in digital ethics, Matt Hancock noted that the government is doing everything it can "so that we can get this right." Given how people are wary about sharing any of their data online, it is understandable why there is a significant amount of scepticism regarding the project.
In a press conference, Hancock stated, "if you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus you can securely tell this new NHS app and the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users that you've been in significant contact with over the past few days." To hopefully assure those who are still unconvinced, a report published by the Evening Standard confirms that the source code will be available to the public.
He then added that "all data will be handled according to the highest ethical and security standards and would only be used for NHS care and research and we won't hold it any longer than it's needed." While many medical researchers agree that contact tracing can help the government come up with appropriate measures to control the transmission of SARS-COV-2.
Meanwhile, acting Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey and Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth generally agree with the use of the NHS app. Nevertheless, both are calling for transparency. Meanwhile, Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Chief Rebecca Hilsenrath reportedly said: "The right to privacy is one of our most precious rights and it is good to hear the Health Secretary give assurances of handling this information with the highest ethical standards and for the shortest period necessary."