The much anticipated coronavirus contact tracing app has failed cyber security, performance and clinical safety tests.
The Health Service Journal has reported that the government’s coronavirus contact tracing app has failed crucial tests needed for it to gain approval to be included in the NHS app library, HSJ says.
It is understood that concerns regarding the app’s privacy and information governance have been discussed nationally.
“Senior NHS sources told HSJ it had thus far failed all of the tests required for inclusion in the app library, including cyber security, performance and clinical safety. There are also concerns at high levels about how users’ privacy will be protected once they log that they have coronavirus symptoms, and become ‘traceable’, and how this information will be used.”
A senior NHS source was quoted in the HSJ as saying:
“The real problem is the government initially initially started saying it was a ‘privacy preserving highly anonymous app’, but it quite clearly isn’t going to be. When you use the app and you’re not positive in the early stages, you’re just exchanging signals between two machines. But the second you say, ‘actually I’m positive’, that has to go back up to the government server where it starts to track you versus other people.”
The app will work by letting users report if they’re experiencing symptoms and the app will then notify other users if they’ve been in contact with an infected user. If a user tests positive then this will trigger an alert to others informing them that they were in close proximity to someone with COVID-19.
According to the NHS, the app will give the public a simple way to make a difference and to help keep themselves and their families safe. The technology is based on research evidence developed by epidemiologists, mathematical modellers and ethicists at Oxford University’s Nuffield Departments of Medicine and Population Health.
“Once you install the app, it will start logging the distance between your phone and other phones nearby that also have the app installed using Bluetooth Low Energy. This anonymous log of how close you are to others will be stored securely on your phone.”
In future releases of the app, people will be able to choose to provide the NHS with extra information about themselves to help identify hotspots and trends.