Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
  2. Coronavirus
5 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Claims NHS app could lead to “pervasive state surveillance“ are “completely wrong“, Hancock says

By Samuel Horti

Claims from Amnesty International UK that the NHS’s coronavirus contact tracing app could “open the door to pervasive state surveillance” have been dismissed as “completely wrong” by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The organisation said the app’s centralised design, which allows some information to be stored centrally rather than on the device itself, means ministers “may be planning to route private data through a central database, opening the door to pervasive state surveillance and privacy infringement, with potentially discriminatory effects”.

“That’s completely wrong,” Hancock told the BBC. “Firstly because the data is stored on your phone until you need to get in contact with the NHS in order to get a test and secondly because the purposes of this are purely and simply to control the spread of the virus, which is really important.

“Thirdly because we’ve all had to give up significant infringements on our liberty, for instance with the social distancing measures and the lockdown, and we want to release those, and this approach will help us to release them… I can reassure you that it’s completely untrue.”

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy