UK to Use Apple-Google API in NHS Contact Tracing App

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The UK's NHS has confirmed plans to use Apple's contact tracing technology in an upcoming app that will warn users if they've recently been in contact with someone suspected to be infected with coronavirus (via BBC News).

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Britain's health secretary Matt Hancock, who announced the move at the government's daily pandemic press briefing, said the NHS was "working closely with the world's leading tech companies" on the initiative.

Apple and Google are working together on Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus around the world. Apple says that user privacy and security will be central to the design of the project.

The BBC reports that the British health service's digital innovation unit, NHSX, wasn't aware of the project before it was announced on Friday, but now plans to integrate the technology into its app.

Doing so should mean the NHS app won't have to use workarounds to keep monitoring the signals even when the app is not being used.

The basic idea behind the app is that people who have self-diagnosed as having coronavirus will be able to declare their status in the app, which will then send an alert to anyone who has recently been close to them for an extended period of time.

"If you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus, you can securely tell this new NHS app," Hancock explained.

"And the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users that you've been in significant contact with over the past few days, even before you had symptoms, so that they know and can act accordingly.

"All data will be handled according to the highest ethical and security standards, and would only be used for NHS care and research.

"And we won't hold it any longer than is needed."

According to the report, a pre-release version of the software will be tested with families at a secure location in the North of England next week.

Top Rated Comments

MecPro Avatar
10 months ago
I figured when I read this on Macrumours on Friday and then the Government mentioned it yesterday that they wouldn’t redesign the wheel.

I’m personally OK with this only due to Apples influence of user privacy.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FrankieTDouglas Avatar
10 months ago


Agreed. This article does a great job explaining my attitude on the use of such technology...
https://reason.com/2020/04/10/the-surveillance-state-thrives-during-the-pandemic/

Exactly this. Meanwhile, there are people out there like those below, who show how easily some people willingly and eagerly give up their privacy. Almost using the standard script for every time some "emergency action" has to be taken against "some enemy" that leaves us with less and less freedom and privacy in the aftermath. This particular story pertains to the UK, which already has one of the most vast CCT networks in the world. How short of a reign do people want to be kept on? At least China had to run over their own citizens with tanks and seize it by force. Now, we have people applauding for such a regime.


Contact tracing is, by its very nature, highly invasive. But it's highly necessary right now. Without using technology like this, less efficient 'old style' contact tracing will happen anyway - and that data will sit on the same servers as this data will. So really don't think you've got much to lose by opting in.


Ah yes, the slippery slope argument - the reason to never do anything new.

Your rights aren't eliminated - they are temporarily suspended, for a very good reason. Jogging is still allowed in most locations, with the arrests usually related to it being used as a cover-up to avoid restrictions for other activity (and frankly, it boggles my mind that jogging is still allowed - rapid movement combined with rapid breathing and large amount of perspiration sounds like a super-spreading risk to me!).

Apple's participation sounds like a reasonable guarantee of decent privacy here. And if you'll look at the technologies involved - it will be impossible to hijack that for sinister purposes.

Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Futurix Avatar
10 months ago


How about no? And let's just stop opening the gate to even more widespread tracking?

You can opt-in NOW. But we've also seen how quickly every government has flexed on eliminating even the most basic of rights, with some countries arresting people even for jogging. There's absolutely zero trust that this app won't end up being abused.

Ah yes, the slippery slope argument - the reason to never do anything new.

Your rights aren't eliminated - they are temporarily suspended, for a very good reason. Jogging is still allowed in most locations, with the arrests usually related to it being used as a cover-up to avoid restrictions for other activity (and frankly, it boggles my mind that jogging is still allowed - rapid movement combined with rapid breathing and large amount of perspiration sounds like a super-spreading risk to me!).

Apple's participation sounds like a reasonable guarantee of decent privacy here. And if you'll look at the technologies involved - it will be impossible to hijack that for sinister purposes.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LondonChris Avatar
10 months ago


How about no? And let's just stop opening the gate to even more widespread tracking?

You can opt-in NOW. But we've also seen how quickly every government has flexed on eliminating even the most basic of rights, with some countries arresting people even for jogging. There's absolutely zero trust that this app won't end up being abused.

Contact tracing is, by its very nature, highly invasive. But it's highly necessary right now. Without using technology like this, less efficient 'old style' contact tracing will happen anyway - and that data will sit on the same servers as this data will. So really don't think you've got much to lose by opting in.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DoctorTech Avatar
10 months ago


How about no? And let's just stop opening the gate to even more widespread tracking?

You can opt-in NOW. But we've also seen how quickly every government has flexed on eliminating even the most basic of rights, with some countries arresting people even for jogging. There's absolutely zero trust that this app won't end up being abused.

Agreed. This article does a great job explaining my attitude on the use of such technology...
https://reason.com/2020/04/10/the-surveillance-state-thrives-during-the-pandemic/
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
twistedpixel8 Avatar
10 months ago


Ah yes, the slippery slope argument - the reason to never do anything new.

Your rights aren't eliminated - they are temporarily suspended, for a very good reason. Jogging is still allowed in most locations, with the arrests usually related to it being used as a cover-up to avoid restrictions for other activity (and frankly, it boggles my mind that jogging is still allowed - rapid movement combined with rapid breathing and large amount of perspiration sounds like a super-spreading risk to me!).

Apple's participation sounds like a reasonable guarantee of decent privacy here. And if you'll look at the technologies involved - it will be impossible to hijack that for sinister purposes.

Thank you! Finally, someone who agrees that runners are an issue and should be told to do their running somewhere isolated and away from other people. I’ve tried to politely explain this to runners and all I get back is “there’s no evidence to say heavy breathing is a transmission vector” or a tirade of abusive language.

It’s like far too many people can’t think for themselves anymore.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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