UK Government to Release Contact Tracking App That Alerts Users about Virus Carriers

Covid-19 Pandemic

Governments and authorities across the world are employing different methods to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. A new report claims that the UK government is planning to release an app that will alert you if you are close to someone who is COVID-19 positive.

The government is preparing to release an app that alerts people if they come too close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, Sky News can reveal.

The contact tracking app, which will operate on an opt-in basis, will be released either just before or just after the lockdown is lifted, according to several people with close knowledge of the project.”

The authorities hope that the app will gain traction and will be used by more than 50% of the population. The NHS also notes that it is imperative for more people to use the app because only then it will work effectively. As far as technicality is concerned, the app will make use of Bluetooth to alert other phone users in the vicinity about COVID-19 carriers.

In order to mitigate security concerns, the data will not be sent to the central authority. The app will help people by alerting them about those who have been tested positive and avoid contact. Meanwhile, the app is expected to be released after the lockdown. The purpose of the app is to limit the spread of COVID-19 once the lockdown period ends.

Our Take

As expected contact tracing apps pose a certain degree of security and privacy risk. Furthermore, the app also excludes a large number of U.K. citizens who are over 55 and don’t use a smartphone. TraceTogether is one such Bluetooth powered app that is extensively being used in Singapore and has been downloaded more than 800,000. Apparently it has helped the country snub its COVID-19 outbreak.

Using the contact tracing app might also trigger hostility towards the infected in some countries. The social stigma that comes attached with coronavirus has already claimed lives. We hope that contact tracing apps will find a way to conceal identity in any form.

[via Sky News]