Ireland launched a communications tracing application using the Apple / Google API in July and Scotland did so yesterday – but England and Wales are still waiting. The government announced today that the new coronavirus app for England and Wales will finally be launched on 24 September.
The uproar began in May, when the government tested an application that did not use the Apple / Google API. This proved to be a ‘serious’ security issue, and the government missed a promised delivery date before making an unreasonable claim that no application was very important.
It was first revealed in May that the British government was considering launching a new app using the privacy-protection API, but last week and for the most part there was silence that the new app was ready for testing. The BBC carries today’s announcement.
A new Covid-19 communication-tracing app will be launched across England and Wales on 24 September, the government has announced.
The app will allow people to scan QR codes, such as barcodes, to register at hospitality venues, and will implement Apple and Google’s other smartphone detection methods. Businesses are being asked to display QR code posters to support the application.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the inauguration as “a moment of determination.”
“We need to use every tool we can to control the spread of the virus, including cutting-edge technology,” he said. “Launching the app across England and Wales later this month will help us define the moment and our ability to add the virus at a critical time.”
In addition to using the API to measure proximity to other people, the app will also scan QR codes that detect pubs, restaurants and other meeting points. If a visitor to these places tests positive, a warning can be sent to everyone present on the same day. This will make it easier for both citizens and businesses to comply with legal requirements for giving and collecting customer contact details.
England has introduced strict coronavirus restrictions that take effect on Monday, under the so-called ‘six-man rule’. This means that no more than six people from different families can meet outside or outside the home, in public or in private.
The Apple / Google API addresses privacy concerns by combining eight privacy protections.
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