A group of nearly 175 British academics have criticized the NHS COVID-19 contact search application for a design choice that they believe could endanger users by creating a centralized store of sensitive data on the Internet. health and travel related to them.
in the open letter published this afternoon, the 173 researchers called NHSX, quango of application development and digital policy of the public health service, to “publicly commit to the fact that there is no database or databases, whatever the controls put in place, which would de-anonymize users of its system. “
To be published in the coming weeks, the NHSX contact search application will be the official way to follow everyone's contacts with people who are positive for COVID-19. The application will send an electronic identifier from your phone and will receive the identifiers of other phones with the application installed. If someone develops the coronavirus, everyone who has come into contact with that person (i.e. their application has come close enough for their identifier to be registered by others) will receive an alert.
In controversy, the NHSX application will transmit this contact data to servers controlled by the government. The academics who signed the open letter today fear that this data stock could become “a tool for collecting data on the population, or on targeted segments of society, for surveillance”.
As we reported yesterday, Britain has abandoned international consensus on the amount of data to collect to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter said:
So far, little information is known to the public about the essential details of the NHSX contact tracking application. Once its creators have published more information on its architecture and its implementation, the public will be able to examine it.
Apple and Google before published specifications for the creation of decentralized contact tracking applications.
Academics: We hate to ask the question, but could governments please refrain from building giant coronavirus monsters that tamper with data and search for contacts?
Above all, the adoption of a centralized model risks losing public confidence. In turn, people may simply not install the app for fear that their sensitive identity and health data, as well as the exact details of who they met, where and when, could be stolen by thieves or otherwise sold or misused for new purposes by government agencies.
The NHS was invited to comment.
In addition, the campaign group Privacy International, as well as most of the leading British privacy activists, sent 10 questions at Palantir, American shaded data analysis company what he would do with data collected from the NHS during the pandemic. ®
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