Dear Mr. Hancock,
This week, you assured the British public that the NHS Covid-19 contact tracking app is secure and will protect the privacy of those who choose to download and use the app.
However, the centralized model you have chosen means that sensitive user data, including location and private medical information will be stored on a central server, which raises questions about who exactly will have access to it. It also presents the possibility of a devastating cyber attack which, if successful, could leak a treasure trove of confidential data.
We are writing to ask you to reconsider the use of a centralized data collection model for the NHSX contact tracking application.
Instead, we ask that before deploying the application to the rest of the country, you opt for the decentralized model. This will protect user privacy and enhance security by ensuring that people’s data stays on their device.
If we are to be treated as adults during this pandemic, we must have our own agency. It means giving us control over our data.
Apple and Google have provided a framework for using contact tracking apps on their devices that champion the decentralized approach. We suggest that the NHSX review this framework.
- put our privacy at risk
- are not effective
- may reduce the number of people downloading the app and defeat the point of contact
You said that using the centralized approach would have several advantages, which may be true, but by adopting this approach, you reduce the chances that this application will be downloaded by as many people as necessary.
More than half of the population will have to download this application for it to be effective, a general public trust is therefore essential. Choosing a centralized approach means that a large part of the general public will question their security. We are already seeing great uncertainty regarding application in the British press.
In Singapore, a country that uses a centralized model for contact tracking, only 20% of the population has downloaded the TraceTogether app.
By debating this problem, you risk wasting precious time in controlling the virus. A decentralized model could solve this problem immediately.