DTA improves Bluetooth privacy on COVIDSafe – Security- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The Digital Transformation Agency has updated its COVIDSafe contact tracing app to allow Android users to remove their user-assigned device names from being exposed over Bluetooth.
The update – its third since the source code for the app was released almost three weeks ago – was pushed out on Tuesday to “further enhance the protection and anonymity of users”.
It introduces “new measures to the Bluetooth contact tracing protocol” to allow users to remove Android device names. This is likely to occur when a user downloads and registers for the app. 
An “extra layer of encryption for the digital handshake” has also been added.
The issue was raised by software developer Jim Mussared and cryptographic researcher Eleanor McMurty in their comprehensive summary of the app’s privacy issues.
Prior to the update, the pair said Android phone model names and user-assigned device names were transmitted over Bluetooth, allowing for device re-identification and tracking.
While the update goes some way to improving privacy for users, device model names will remain visible to anyone in Bluetooth range.
Code sighted by iTnews shows new advice that alerts users that their user-assigned device name will be visible over Bluetooth and prompts them to “consider making the device name anonymous”.
The update also introduces a new feature that “improves accessibility for people who use text to speech technology” to navigate and use the app.
The DTA said the “improvements include better descriptions of fields within the app, such as the age range selection when registering, and better recognition of back arrows”.
“As we continue to iteratively enhance the COVIDSafe app, protecting the privacy of Australian’s is at the forefront of our efforts,” the DTA said in a statement.
“We would like to thank members of the community, including software developers and researchers, who have worked with us in addressing these issues.”

Initial thoughts regarding the recent code pushed to the COVIDSafe Android repository:
It seems to use AEAD via AES-128-CBC and SHA-256 HMACs to encrypt and authenticate Bluetooth payloads.
If this is correct, it’s a really strong step in the right direction; @DTA did good.
— Eleanor ✨ (@noneuclideangrl) May 27, 2020
Other key improvements to COVIDSafe to date include improvements to Bluetooth performance on iOS devices, including when the device is locked.
This was made possible with new code sourced from the the UK’s NHSX contact tracing app, which has been developed by the Tempemail Health Service’s healthtech unit.
However, the DTA is yet to detail whether these improvements have completely fixed the Bluetooth issues that were confirmed by the agency to impact performance on iOS devices. 
The DTA will also look to improve COVIDSafe bluetooth performance further following the release of the Google and Apple exposure notification application programming interface.
According to the ABC, the DTA and the Department of Health are currently testing the API to understand how it can be applied to Australia. 
The DTA said it would continue to update the COVIDSafe app based on internal reviews and feedback from the community, with the next update slated ot be released sometime in June.
“We are currently working on the next COVIDSafe update, which will be released in June,” it said.
More than six million Australians have now downloaded and registered for the COVIDSafe app.
Updated 28 May to clarify that device models are still visible over Bluetooth. 

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As Chinese authorities expand use of health tracking apps, privacy concerns grow – Networking – Security – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

China’s health tracking QR codes, which have played a key part in the country’s successful containment of the coronavirus, now look set to play a much broader role in daily life as local authorities dream up new uses for the technology.
Embedded in the popular WeChat and Alipay smartphone apps, the codes use self-reported and automatically collected travel and medical data to give people a red, yellow or green rating indicating the likelihood of having the virus.
To walk around freely, people in China must have a green rating and since February they have been asked to present their health QR codes to gain entry into restaurants, parks and other venues.
The codes had so far met with little public resistance, seen as a necessary tool to get the economy back up on its feet again.
Or that was the case until the eastern city of Hangzhou proposed on Friday permanently assigning each of its residents a coloured health badge and giving them a score from 0-100 based on their medical records and lifestyle habits.
Images published by Hangzhou’s health authority showed people would be rated on how much they exercised, their eating and drinking habits, whether they smoked and even how much they slept the night before.
That was seen as far too invasive, setting off a fire storm of criticism from thousands of users on Twitter-like Weibo and fuelling debate about privacy and data security – a debate that comes just as China is poised to enshrine individuals’ rights to privacy and personal data for the first time as part of the country’s first civil code.
“My physical health is private, why would you want to collect information and build a leaderboard?” said one commentator on Weibo in reaction to the Hangzhou proposal.
Online personal data is easily bought and sold in China and the likelihood of personal information being hacked was also a major concern.
“Why would it be my company’s business if I’m seeing a doctor?” said another commentator.
Ma Ce, a lawyer based in Hangzhou who tracks policy law, said users had the right to demand that data collected to prevent the spread of the coronavirus be destroyed once the crisis is over due to the risk of it being leaked out.
Other local authorities, while excited by the potential to expand use of the health codes, have not gone as far as Hangzhou.
The southern city of Guangzhou has expanded its health code platform to include services that help residents book online consultations with local hospitals and buy face masks. Fujian province has said it wants to expand its QR codes to encompass medical treatment and drug purchases.
Whether Hangzhou is successful in its proposal and just how much privacy people in China will have post-pandemic are questions still very much up in the air.
On one hand, the new rights which will enable individuals to take action if data is leaked are set to be approved after deliberations by China’s annual meeting of parliament which began on Friday.
Search engine giant Baidu CEO Robin Li and other delegates to the meeting have also made a number of proposals – including that data collected during the epidemic should be destroyed after it ends or that rules should be put in place on how to manage the data.
But at the same time, it looks like health QR codes and their expanded use are here to stay as China presses ahead with national standards so that problems with data sharing and people travelling between cities and provinces can be avoided.
“In the future, the ‘health code’ has a wide range of application scenarios,” state news agency Xinhua said last week.

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DTA fixes COVIDSafe Bluetooth privacy bug – Security- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The Digital Transformation Agency has fixed a security issue with its COVIDSafe contact tracing app that exposed Android device names over Bluetooth.
The update – its third since the source code for the app was released almost three weeks ago – was pushed out on Tuesday to “further enhance the protection and anonymity of users”.
It introduces “new measures to the Bluetooth contact tracing protocol” to remove the visibility of Android devices names, as well as “an extra layer of encryption for the digital handshake”. 
The issue was raised by software developer Jim Mussared and cryptographic researcher Eleanor McMurty in their comprehensive summary of the app’s privacy issues.
Prior to the update, the paid said Android phone model names and user-assigned device names were transmitted over Bluetooth, allowing for device re-identification and tracking.
As we continue to iteratively enhance the COVIDSafe app, protecting the privacy of Australian’s is at the forefront of our efforts,” the DTA said in a statement.
“We would like to thank members of the community, including software developers and researchers, who have worked with us in addressing these issues.”

Initial thoughts regarding the recent code pushed to the COVIDSafe Android repository:
It seems to use AEAD via AES-128-CBC and SHA-256 HMACs to encrypt and authenticate Bluetooth payloads.
If this is correct, it’s a really strong step in the right direction; @DTA did good.
— Eleanor ✨ (@noneuclideangrl) May 27, 2020
The update also introduces a new feature that “improves accessibility for people who use text to speech technology” to navigate and use the app.
The DTA said the” improvements include better descriptions of fields within the app, such as the age range selection when registering, and better recognition of back arrows”.
Other key improvements to COVIDSafe to date include improvements to Bluetooth performance on iOS devices, including when the device is locked.
This was made possible with new code sourced from the the UK’s NHSX contact tracing app, which has been developed by the Tempemail Health Service’s healthtech unit.
However, the DTA is yet to detail whether these improvements have completely fixed the Bluetooth issues that were confirmed by the agency to impact performance on iOS devices. 
The DTA will also look to improve COVIDSafe bluetooth performance further following the release of the Google and Apple exposure notification application programming interface.
According to the ABC, the DTA and the Department of Health are currently testing the API to understand how it can be applied to Australia. 
The DTA said it would continue to update the COVIDSafe app based on internal reviews and feedback from the community, with the next update slated ot be released sometime in June.
“We are currently working on the next COVIDSafe update, which will be released in June,” it said.
More than six million Australians have now downloaded and registered for the COVIDSafe app.

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20% online user in APAC ready to sacrifice privacy for freebies: Study- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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More than one-fifth of online users in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region are still willing to sacrifice their privacy to gain a product or a service for free, a survey by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky revealed. Another 24 per cent of the respondents also let their guards down by sharing social media account details for funny quizzes, such as what kind of flower they are or what celebrity they resemble, the results showed.
Moreover, 20 per cent of consumers surveyed also admitted they need some help to learn how to protect their privacy online.
“Our data on hand suggests a complex online behaviour within our region. It is a welcome progress that the majority of consumers are now concerned about their online privacy but their virtual habits and security know-how must undergo an overhaul,” Stephan Neumeier, Managing Director for Asia Pacific at Kaspersky, said in a statement.
In fact, the study showed that 40 per cent of consumers from APAC faced incidents where their private information was accessed by someone who did not have their consent.
Some of the breaches involve accounts being accessed without permission, illegal takeover of devices, confidential data being stolen and used, private data being accessed by someone without consent, and private information being divulged publicly.
More than 5 in 10 online users in the region also expressed their equal concern in terms of guarding their virtual and physical lives.
When asked about the consequences they encountered after a privacy breach, the online users enumerated negative aftermaths concerning their digital and even physical lives.
Most were disturbed by spam and adverts, some were stressed, and a portion claimed their personal reputation was damaged.
Loss of money and dent in familial relationships were also reported by some, according to the “Kaspersky Global Privacy Report 2020”.
The survey was conducted on behalf of the company by independent research agency Toluna between January and February 2020.
For the study, around 15,000 consumers were surveyed across 23 countries out of which more than 3,000 participants were from the APAC region, Kaspersky said.

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US Contact Tracing App Violates Policy Say Tech Privacy Firms- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

A revised statement says third parties “may have temporary access to aspects of your data for their specific data processing tasks. However, they will not collect this data in a form that allows themselves or others to access or otherwise use this data.”
South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said the Care19 app doesn’t violate the privacy statement and that users always had to grant permission for the app to use their data. The South Dakota version of the app has been downloaded more than 18,000 times, but hasn’t been used to trace an active infection yet.
“This is a voluntary, opt-in app,” she said.
North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum said in a statement that the app, which has over 33,000 downloads in his state, does not use names, addresses or other personal information.
“The anonymous information Care19 is gathering can save lives, and smartly and safely using technology is one more way to help us speed up our economy recovery,” he said.

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Decision Reached on Twitter Privacy Probe- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Twitter may be the first big technology firm to face a fine by the EU’s lead regulator under the region’s tougher data protection rules after it submitted a preliminary decision in a probe into the social media firm to other member states.
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) also said on Friday it had sent a preliminary decision to Facebook-owned WhatsApp for their submissions and made further progress in three other investigations related to Facebook.
Ireland hosts the European headquarters of a number of U.S. technology firms, making the DPC the EU’s lead regulator under the bloc’s General Data Protection Regulation’s (GDPR) “One Stop Shop” regime introduced in 2018.
The new rules give regulators the power to impose fines for violations of up to 4% of a company’s global revenue or 20 million euros ($22 million), whichever is higher.
Under GDPR, the DPC must share its preliminary decision with all concerned EU supervisory authorities and consider their views in its final verdict. Each of the bloc’s regulators may be called on for a majority decision if agreement cannot be reached.
The DPC is not commenting on the substance of the preliminary Twitter decision at this point, Deputy Commissioner Graham Doyle told Reuters.
The Twitter ruling relates to a 2019 probe into a bug in its Android app, where some users’ protected tweets were made public. Twitter is the subject of two of the 20 other inquiries the DPC had open into big tech firms at the end of 2019.
A spokeswoman for Twitter declined to comment.
Facebook has come under most scrutiny, with eight individual probes, plus two into WhatsApp and one into Facebook-owned Instagram.
The DPC said it had moved to the decision-making phase of a complaint-based inquiry which focuses on Facebook Ireland’s obligations to establish a lawful basis for personal data processing.
It said it had also sent draft inquiry reports to the complainants and companies concerned in two further inquiries concerning Instagram and WhatsApp.

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TikTok Accused of Breaching Child Privacy Regulations | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Sourced from Cosmico

At least twenty advocacy groups have accused TikTok of violating child privacy regulations in the US and breaching a settlement that the viral video app agreed with the Federal Trade Commission last year over a previous privacy complaint.
The groups, which include the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the Center for Digital Democracy and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, have all filed complaints with the US Watchdog saying that they believe that the social media platform is “in contempt” of the terms of the 2019 settlement, as well as children’s privacy regulations.
ArsTechnica reports that TikTok, owned by Chinese tech group ByteDance, was fined $5.7-million in February last year for illegally collecting children’s data as it began to rise in popularity among teens in the West.
Now, according to the advocacy groups’ complaint, “more than a year later, with quarantined kids and families flocking to the site in record numbers, TikTok has failed to delete personal information previously collected from children and is still collecting kids’ personal information without notice to and consent of parents”.

TikTok claims it had not yet seen the latest complaint. In a statement, the company says “We take privacy seriously and are committed to helping ensure that TikTok continues to be a safe and entertaining community for our users.”
Last month, TikTok topped 2-billion downloads, according to data from Sensor Tower, after it was installed more than 315-million times via the App Store and Google Play in the first quarter of the year alone, a quarterly record for any app to date.
Calling for an investigation into the matter and sanctions on TikTok, the consumer and child privacy groups claim that the company had failed to delete personal information collected from users aged 13 and under prior to the 2019 settlement order – a direct breach of the terms of the agreement.
The groups also argued that the app doesn’t have appropriate mechanisms for receiving parental consent for the collection of certain data belonging to children on the platform, or for allowing parents to delete that personal information. Something that is in violation of the US consent decree and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
“We easily found that many accounts featuring children were still present on TikTok. Many of these accounts have tens of thousands to millions of followers, and have been around since before the order,” says Michael Rosenbloom, staff attorney at the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown Law, which is representing the advocates.
“We urge the FTC to hold TikTok to account for continuing to violate both COPPA and its consent decree.”
The news comes just hours after the Dutch data protection agency announced an investigation into whether TikTok “adequately protects” the privacy of Dutch children and “adequately explains how their personal data is collected, processed, and used.”
TikTok says it was “fully cooperating” with the Dutch watchdog regarding its privacy investigation.
Edited by Luis Monzon
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COVIDSafe privacy protections now locked in law – Strategy – Security – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The privacy protections behind Australia’s COVIDSafe contact tracing app are now enshrined in law after the underpinning legislation passed through parliament with minor improvements.
The Privacy Amendment (Public Health Contact Information) Bill cleared the senate without amendments on Thursday morning, two days after it was introduced by the government.
The legislation seeks to allay privacy concerns within the community, replacing an interim determination issued under the Biosecurity Act when COVIDSafe was launched last month.
It introduces strict penalties of up to five years jail for those that collect, use, disclose (include outside of Australia) or decrypt COVIDSafe data for any purpose other than contact tracing.
The legislation also makes it illegal to force someone to use COVIDSafe and outlines the data handling requirements expected of the health department and Digital Transformation Agency.
Since the draft legislation was released last week, Labor has secured several amendments to improve the laws after constructive engagement with attorney-general Christian Porter.
“This is now a stronger and better piece of legislation as a result of constructive engagement between Labor and the government,” shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said on Tuesday.
Improvements include “greater clarity about what data is protected”, restrictions on law enforcement becoming the COVIDSafe data store administrator and six-monthly public reporting requirements about COVIDSafe’s operation.
The bill also gives the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner “greater oversight” of the app and the data it collects, and ensures the office can investigate privacy breaches even when they overlap with an law enforcement investigation.
“To be clear: this bill will introduce the strongest privacy safeguards that have ever been put in place by any Australian parliament,” Dreyfus told the house of representatives on Tuesday.
“That is despite the fact that the COVIDSafe app is voluntary and the data that it collects is, compared to other personal information that’s routinely collected by governments and corporations, relatively innocuous. This bill takes privacy seriously.”
But serious questions over the app’s effectiveness remain, which Labor has argued cannot be addressed by legislation alone.
These include technical issues with COVIDSafe’s Bluetooth performance on iOS, which the DTA has admitted could limit the app’s effectiveness capturing ‘digital handshakes’ with other devices.
Labor has also questioned the DTA’s decision to hand Amazon Web Services the contract for the COVIDSafe app and national data store using a limited tender process, instead of an Australian-owned provider.
It has insisted that Australian-owned providers offering protected-level cloud services like Sliced Tech, Macquarie Telecom and Vault should have been given the opportunity to bid for the contract.
But DTA CEO Randall Brugeud last week gave some reasoning for the selection, with the contract covering hosting, development and operational of the COVIDSafe app and national data store.
This line was reiterated by foreign affairs minister Marise Payne on Wednesday, who said “the contract with AWS is a combination of hosting, development and operational services, which is more extensive than services provided by pure hosting providers”.
“While there are several Australian cloud providers that could have provided elements of the service that AWS has provided, AWS’s ability to scale very quickly in this pandemic context and to provide a broader range of services is beneficial for the purposes to which the COVIDSafe app is to be put.
“In relation to the CLOUD Act, any transfer of data to any country outside Australia will constitute a criminal offence under the provisions of the bill and attract a penalty of five years imprisonment.”
After a short debate on Thursday morning, the bill was passed after Labor opposed any further amendments to the legislation brought by the Australian Greens and Centre Alliance, including the introduction of a strict sunset clause.
“Labor believes that there is a strong public interest in putting these privacy protections in place as soon as possible, and so Labor will not be supporting any amendments that delay the passage of this bill,” Labor senator Murray Watt said. 
More than 5.6 million Australians have now downloanded and registered for COVIDSafe since it was released two-and-a-half weeks ago.
Deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly on Wednesday said that the portal allowing state and territory health officials to access data collected by the app was now up and running.
He said all agreements with states and territories had now been signed and that health professionals involved in the contract tracing process trained to use the portal.
The DTA released the source code for COVIDSafe app late last week, but will not be releasing the code that relates to the national data store.

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UK contact-tracing app could fall foul of privacy law, government told | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

UK contact-tracing app could fall foul of privacy law, government told | Technology – Blog – Tempemail.co

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The NHS contact-tracing app must not be rolled out across the UK until the government has increased privacy and data protections, an influential parliamentary committee has said, as rights groups warn that the current trial is unlawful under the data protection act.
The joint committee on human rights said on Thursday it had “significant concerns” that must be addressed before the trial was expanded. Its report was published following a legal letter from the Open Rights Group warning of “heightened and urgent concerns” that the government had failed to follow laws requiring it to submit an assessment of the risks to the information commissioners office.
The app, which is being trialled on the Isle of Wight, logs users’ movements and can alert people if they have had contact with someone who has developed symptoms.
Ministers have said it is an important tool to study the spread of Covid-19 and to help them ease lockdown restrictions.
But privacy campaign groups have opposed its introduction and a group of UK academics working in cybersecurity, privacy and law recently signed a joint letter saying it could open the door to general surveillance.
Harriet Harman, the chair of the joint committee on human rights, said government assurances on privacy were “not enough”.
“The government has given assurances about protection of privacy so they should have no objection to those assurances being enshrined in law.

Callout
callout-coronavirus

“>“The contact-tracing app involves unprecedented data gathering. There must be robust legal protection for individuals about what that data will be used for, who will have access to it and how it will be safeguarded from hacking.
“Parliament was able quickly to agree to give the government sweeping powers. It is perfectly possible for parliament to do the same for legislation to protect privacy.”
The committee said the app would fall foul of the law in its current form. It has called for new legislation with guaranteed data and human rights protections, as well as 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 to deal with complaints from the public and report to parliament, and regular reviews of the scheme by Matt Hancock, the health secretary.
Giving evidence to the committee on Monday, Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, revealed that her office had not received a data protection impact assessment from the government, a legally required step for any organisation embarking on “high risk” data processing.
“We have not yet seen the data protection impact assessment, which is critical for us to be able to see what legal bases will be relied on for the application,” Denham told the committee. “We expect to get it very soon.”
Three days after the hearing, however, and the ICO has still not been given the impact assessment, even as the app’s trial has grown to encompass all residents of the Isle of Wight. “This means NHSX are proceeding unlawfully with their trials,” said Jim Killock, chief executive of the Open Rights Group, which has written to the head of NHSX, Matthew Gould, demanding to know why the body has failed its legal obligations.

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UK racing to improve contact-tracing app’s privacy safeguards | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

NHS officials are racing to introduce greater privacy safeguards for the contact-tracing app at the centre of the government’s lockdown exit strategy amid mounting concern from security experts, MPs and users.
Whitehall sources conceded to the Guardian that they were “two steps behind in public engagement” because the app – which tracks everyone a user has met and warns them to self-isolate when the user reports Covid-19 symptoms – has had to be developed at high speed.

It plans to complete the appointment of an ethics board to improve oversight and publish the software source code in the next month, and has not ruled out “a sunset clause”, agreeing to delete all data collected once the country returns to normal.
On Monday, Matt Hancock announced that the NHS Covid-19 tracing app would be tested on the Isle of Wight this week before being deployed around the UK by the end of the month to monitor and contain future outbreaks.

Matt Hancock confirms ‘test, track and trace’ trial will begin on Isle of Wight – video
But there are growing worries about public take-up after security specialists and MPs raised concerns, in particular over the central database which will contain anonymised records of those reporting symptoms and who their phone has come in contact with.

Guardian graphic
Robert Hannigan, a former director of the government’s intelligence and security organisation, GCHQ, said while he thought the app was “not a threat to individuals” because it only recorded a person’s postcode alongside a unique reference number for each phone, it was right that the exercise in surveillance should be reviewed after the crisis.
“My own feeling is that this should be time limited. So, at the end of the pandemic we need to pause this experiment and have a proper public debate, and parliamentary debate, about the use of these apps in the future,” he said.

A former chairman of the culture media and sport select committee, Damian Collins, wrote to Hancock, the health secretary, with a series of questions arguing that it was “vital there is a high level of support” for the app, which required “reassurances to be given about both its effectiveness and the processes for controlling the data gathered by it”.
The Conservative MP asked whether the app and data collected “would be destroyed at the end of the pandemic”, as Australia has agreed to do, to prevent it being used for other purposes by government.
The app has been developed by NHSX, a digital unit jointly under the Department of Health and the NHS. Those involved say that any data collected – a unique monitoring of the British population – will not be shared with any other government departments or private companies.
Retaining some information in a central database has been deemed necessary because it allows the NHS to track regional outbreaks and obtain information about the future spread of the disease. Google and Apple have tried to promote an alternative database-free decentralised approach, which was rejected by the UK.

graphic 2
Ministers want 60% of the population to download the app in order for it to be most effective in monitoring coronavirus outbreaks, but insiders concede that it may be taken up by somewhere closer to 20% at first until concerns about monitoring and privacy are properly dealt with.
Prof Lillian Edwards, a specialist in internet law from Newcastle University, said that while the contact data being retained was described as anonymous, it was nevertheless personal – and that she was concerned that members of the public would not have the right to have it deleted.
“That’s a basic right under our privacy rules – the famous right to be forgotten – and it shows up some basic problems with the centralised architecture,” she added.
But Raab said at the government’s daily press conference that the UK wanted to develop its own bespoke technology, and had taken appropriate security advice. “The reality is we want the app to be focused on the UK and we want the technology to be tailored to make sure we can deal with the specific challenges we’ve got in this country,” he said.

Data from Public Health England at

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