Apple and Google reject UK COVID-19 app

Apple and Google have been forced to reject the UK’s latest COVID-19 Test and Trace app update because it failed to follow privacy rules the nation had already agreed to follow in order to use the frameworks the tech firms provide.

Keeping deals

In line with World Health Organization (WHO) advice to test widely and act fast in the event of COVID-19 outbreaks, Apple and Google moved quickly at the beginning of the pandemic to develop a private-by-design Exposure Notifications system the world’s health authorities could use to build digital track-and-trace systems.

Both firms explained the need to prevent these systems from eroding privacy, built privacy safeguards inside the system, and insisted nations using it respect people’s privacy. These requirements are crystal clear in the terms and conditions of the software.

The companies recognized that the state of emergency should not be used as a way to sneak surveillance technologies in through the back door. Both Apple and Google are paying increasing attention to the consequences of that.

In the UK, at least, the government chose instead to try – and fail – to build a less private system. Now, the UK is back with a second attempt to use track and trace in a manner that erodes privacy. At the same time, many other nations now have functional systems built using the Apple/Google foundation that have cost less to develop and are now in use. The UK’s system cost billions, but has made little difference.

Why the ban?

Apple and Google have rejected the latest NHS app update because it includes functions that have been banned from the start. That means UK users seeking the government’s own contact-tracing app can only download an older version.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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