Launch of Covid-19 apps – will users’ personal information remain protected?

As the UK enters a period of full lockdown, a number of Covid-19 apps have been launched, one promises to check users’ symptoms remotely and to provide the latest guidance, while another seeks to help researchers identify hotspots and non-typical symptoms.

This follows similar apps being launched in other countries including Taiwan which is utilising technology during the global pandemic to monitor quarantined users’ movements, alerting the police if they leave their homes.

Kingsley Hayes, managing director at data breach and cybercrime specialist Hayes Connor Solicitors, said: “Technological innovation during this unprecedented period of crisis may help official health organisations learn more about the coronavirus contributing to the global effort to contain and tackle the disease.

“Caution should be taken by users however, in relation to how personal information such as gender, age, medical information and location will be stored, processed and shared. At a time of crisis, these and other developments will be introduced quickly and will likely be adopted rapidly by the general public as we all come to terms with significant disruption.

“The organisations behind the apps should be transparent about how the collected confidential data will be used, stored and shared both during the pandemic and after.

“While technological advancements mean that some have been able to respond quickly to the crisis by introducing apps which may prove helpful, protecting confidential data – even in times of crisis – should remain a priority.”

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