Apple and Google are ‘blocking the NHS Covid app update’ for violating their privacy rules

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Apple and Google ‘block NHS Covid app update’ allowing contact tracking teams to find locations visited by people who test positive for violating their privacy rules

  • App was intended to receive update ahead of today’s lockdown easements
  • But it is believed to have been blocked for privacy reasons by tech giants
  • Previously, the app saved location data on people’s phones and warned them of risks
  • But the update would have moved the information to a central hub, breaking telephone company rules

An update to the Covid app that allegedly helped contract tracking teams follow the steps taken by those testing positive is believed to have been blocked by Apple and Google for violating privacy rules.

The software would get an update from April 8, in time for today’s lockdown to relax and the introduction of free rapid coronavirus testing for everyone in England.

So far, the NHS app for England and Wales has allowed people to check in at covered places such as bars and restaurants by scanning a QR code, but the details remained on their phones.

If a location is identified as a potential virus hotspot, each device receives this data so that the app can compare the owner’s log against locations and alert them if they may have been exposed.

But the new version of the app planned to further automate the process, instead asking users for permission to upload their location history to a central hub if they test positive.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said this would be done in a “ privacy-protective ” manner and that location alerts could be generated more quickly, helping to better identify where outbreaks are happening.

But this goes against the rules of Apple and Google, which explicitly state that their joint Exposure Notifications System used within the app should “ not share location data of the user’s device with the GGD, Apple or Google. ”

So far, the NHS app for England and Wales has allowed people to check-in at covered places such as bars and restaurants by scanning a QR code, but the details remained on their phones.

So far, the NHS app for England and Wales has allowed people to check in at covered places such as bars and restaurants by scanning a QR code, but the details remained on their phones.

An update to the NHS Covid-19 app has been delayed after the government tried to add a check-in sharing feature that violates Apple and Google rules

An update to the NHS Covid-19 app has been delayed after the government tried to add a check-in sharing feature that violates Apple and Google rules

DHSC confirmed that the update has been delayed, but declined to say whether it was blocked by Apple and Google for violating their privacy terms

DHSC confirmed that the update has been delayed, but declined to say whether it was blocked by Apple and Google for violating their privacy terms

An update to the NHS Covid-19 app has been delayed after the government tried to add a check-in sharing feature that violates Apple and Google rules

Covid app ‘looked at adding prick status’

The NHS Covid app has looked into adding vaccination status.

Amid calls for No10 to bring in vaccine passports, developers claim to have explored options for users to upload their vaccination status.

Thousands of pubs, bars and restaurants asked users to check in with the app during the summer.

Senior ministers have urged Boris Johnson to consider vaccination certificates to revive the crippled economy.

Downing Street has insisted that ministers have “no plans” to use the test and trace app to get people to prove they took the vaccine.

But a source close to the project told The Times, “We would be remiss if we didn’t look at integrating vaccine data into the app.”

When approached about the matter, DHSC confirmed that the update had been delayed but declined to say whether it had been blocked by Apple and Google for violating their privacy terms.

“The NHS Covid-19 app is an important tool in our pandemic response,” said a spokesman.

As locations begin to open, we encourage anyone who can to use the improved location check-in process, which includes advising users to book a test if they go to locations where multiple people have tested positive.

Implementation of the NHS Covid-19 app functionality to allow users to upload their location history has been delayed.

“This will not affect the functionality of the app and we will continue to engage with our partners to provide useful updates to the app that will protect the public.”

Changes that force any individual within a party to check-in through the app or leave their contact details with the venue owner will continue, instead of allowing just one member of the party to check-in as before.

Scotland, which has its own app, appears to have gotten around the problem by launching a separate check-in app in December, allowing the original Protect Scotland app to focus on detecting other positive users that individuals come into close contact with .

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