New NHS contact tracing app addresses privacy concerns

The new COVID-19 contact tracing app is now ready for testing in England. Read our response to the news that a redesigned contact-tracing app is ready for release.

From today, the new NHS COVID-19 app will start being tested in England. 

The app, which will support NHS Test and Trace service, is expected to be first tested on the Isle of Wight, with NHS volunteers, and in one other geographic area.

The new app uses different technology from the previous trials and should address questions Healthwatch England has raised with the NHS when it comes to how people's data will be collected and stored.

Six key questions

Throughout the app’s development, Healthwatch England has argued that to ensure the app’s success, the public will need to feel confident that they understand the answers to the following questions: 

  • What data will the app capture? 
  • How will it be captured? 
  • How will it be used? 
  • Who will have access? 
  • How long will they have access to it? 
  • What happens to anyone who misuses the data?  

Responding to the news, Imelda Redmond CBE, National Director of Healthwatch England said:

"Throughout the development of the app, we have stressed that the public will need to understand exactly what data is being captured, have confidence in its effectiveness, and trust that the app contains appropriate privacy and security measures for it to succeed.

"With this latest version, we feel confident that lessons from the previous trial have been learned, and that the decentralised data storage model offers the right balance of privacy for users alongside huge potential public health benefits.

"I hope there is wide take-up of the app in the trial period and that people’s feedback can pave the way for further improvements leading to a national roll-out which will support a safer and quicker transition out of the lockdown."

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