Expert on coronavirus contact tracing app eases concerns over privacy

5 May 2020, 10:48

The man overseeing the ethics of the new coronavirus tracing app explained what he's done to ensure all privacy concerns are addressed.

Sir Jonathan Montgomery is a professor of Healthcare Law at UCL and is chairing the Ethics Advisory Board overseeing the NHS Contact Tracing App.

The testing phase of the coronavirus app starts on the Isle of Wight today, with the plan to roll out distribution of the app to the rest of the UK in the next three weeks.

The app uses bluetooth technology to log the people who you have come into contact with, leading to concerns over privacy.

However, Sir Jonathan explained why people should not be worried.

READ MORE: What is the NHSX coronavirus tracing app and how does it work?

The NHS coronavirus tracing app
The NHS coronavirus tracing app. Picture: PA

He told Nick Ferrari: "I don't think you should have privacy concerns at this stage. It doesn't store your phone number.

"The numbers is uses to connect phones together are randomly-generated. Unlike the Australian version of the app, it doesn't ask for your phone number or your name.

"But we do need to make sure that there isn't any mission creep. There was nothing in the plans that the Ethics Advisory Board has seen that makes us concerned about privacy. But we are saying that should the plan go well and people have ideas about collecting more data, there would need to be choices for people about whether they opt into that.

"The product that we are talking about now is anonymous and very protective of privacy. The Information Commissioner's office has been advising on the development.

"The key thing is to make sure that it stays for the prime purpose of stopping the virus now."

His account was so effective that the guest after him who had concerns about privacy admitted that after hearing him, he would now download the app. Hear it at the top of the page.

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