‘On Monday afternoon, just a couple of hours after the Government launched the new Contact Tracing App to the media, the Joint Committee on Human Rights sat (virtually), with the Information Commissioner, the CEO of NHSX and other expert witnesses.
The outcome of the hearing concluded that current plans for release of the App (around 30,000 downloads so far this week according to Bob Seely MP) do not sufficiently protect the right to privacy and other human rights.
Lack of scrutiny
The Committee said they are highly concerned that the App has not been subject to in-depth Parliamentary scrutiny, as previous extensions of state powers of surveillance and data collection for terrorism prevention, had been in the past.
This follows a letter from 170+ Security and privacy academics calling for a data protection impact assessment to be published prior to launch.
The Committee say the App should not be released unless strong protections are in place and there are guarantees on:
- Efficacy and proportionality: Without clear efficacy and benefits of the App, the level of data being collected will be not be justifiable and it will therefore fall foul of data protection law and human rights protections.
- Primary legislation: Any data gathering by the App must be accompanied with the appropriate guaranteed data and human rights protections in the form of primary legislation.
- Oversight: There should be an independent body to oversee the use, effectiveness and privacy protections of the App and any data associated with this contact tracing. A Digital Contact Tracing Human Rights Commissioner should be responsible for oversight and they should be able to deal with complaints from the Public and report to Parliament.
- Regular reviews: The Health Secretary must undertake a review every 21 days of the App’s efficacy, as well as the safety of the data and how privacy is being protected in the use of any such data.
- Transparency: The Government and health authorities must at all times be transparent about how the App, and data collected through it, is being used.’