The privacy of British citizens is at stake with the Corona-linked contact tracing app

The privacy of British citizens is at stake with the Corona-linked contact tracing app

Covd-19 is going to be a part of our lives until we get a vaccine for it. At a time when governments around the world are struggling to find a way out of the lockdown, the UK has adopted a "test, track and trace" strategy.

At the heart of this strategy is the NHS Contact Tracing App, which is being tested on the Isle of Wight this week. If the experiment is successful, it is expected to be rolled out across the UK in a few weeks. It will need to be installed in about 60% of the population or 80% of smartphone users for it to work.

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But that's not the only problem. According to a report published in the Health Service Journal this week, the contact detection app failed clinical safety and cybersecurity tests and could pose a threat to people's privacy.

At the same time, there is a fear that over-surveillance will open the door to a very bad and uncertain future that no one would have thought would come so soon.

Only time will tell which countries responded correctly to deal with the epidemic, said Rowena Fielding, a privacy expert and head of individual rights and ethics. But it is fair to say that there are technical and legal flaws in the UK's self-identifying approach to communications.

How does the app work?

The procedure is simple, people will be asked to install this app on their iOS or Android and then it will start providing information about their daily life.

It will monitor your movements and if you come in contact with someone whose corona test is positive, you will be issued an alert asking you to stay home.

This contact tracing app uses your smartphone's Bluetooth technology to find out when someone else's phone is within 6 feet.

If you get sick with symptoms like corona virus, you need to notify this app immediately so that anyone who comes in close contact with you can be notified.

What kind of data does the app collect?

If you are using this app with Bluetooth enabled, your smartphone will transmit a special type of data (String of numbers) that will be unique to this device.

These devices will exchange strings of numbers with each other when you walk within 6 feet of another person using this app. Your phone stores all of these unique codes for 28 days, and if you show code 19 signs during that time, upload the anonymous identifiers stored in your mobile to a central system. Is given.

This app also asks you for the first part of your postcode and also records your device model. It also records information about your Bluetooth usage and the identities of other smartphones that interact with your phone.

Former British Military Intelligence Colonel Philip Ingram explained that the data was used as a risk assessment algorithm.

He added that the word "anonymous" has been used by app developers in the security sense. The definition varies under the EU Update to General Data Protection Regulation.

The other problem is that since Bluetooth signals can pass through walls, they can be misidentified if the app users are sitting in two separate rooms. Fielding explained that these factors affect the quality and analysis of data.

What is the difference between central and decentralized models?

Although contact tracing is an important tool in helping to prevent the spread of the corona virus, the UK has decided to adopt its own strategy instead of the Apple and Google-backed models, which are better understood in terms of privacy.

Other countries are using a decentralized model with only phone-to-phone conversations and no backup database based on information.

In contrast, the UK is going to use a centralized model where information and data will be stored in a centralized database, with the government saying it wants to prioritize data that can be analyzed.

Fielding said the central data model allows you to identify different trends and habits at the regional and national levels, which is not possible in the decentralized model.

According to cybersecurity expert Jack Moore, the use of a centralized model means that your data will be owned by the British government and can be used to track contacts through more appropriate monitoring.

 Would you like to use this app?
So is the UK contacts tracking app secure and would everyone like to use it? Ingram responded by saying that the overall usefulness of the track and trace process far outweighs the individual app. So with that in mind, they will not use this app if they have some privacy concerns.

But Fielding vehemently opposed it, saying the risks of using the app far outweighed its benefits at the individual and societal levels.

He said that it is possible to create an app that will help in the fight against the epidemic, but it should be presented in a way that guarantees the protection of individual and group life and in which legal and Ethical balance must be maintained. But there is no such thing in this app.

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