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UK police told not to download NHS COVID tracing app

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The UK’s attempt to produce a functional and widely adopted, not to mention efficient app that would track and trace people with coronavirus and alert others of being near them, has had a less than stellar development and launch, to put it mildly.

The app, Test and Trace, churned out by the National Health Service (NHS) initially raised eyebrows when it was announced over its very nature as potentially a privacy and civil liberties-violating tool. It was then delayed, redesigned – incorporating Apple and Google technology, apparently as a way to assuage privacy concerns.

The delay took four months, only to finally be launched recently in what many have reported to be a bug-ridden, half-baked experience.

At this point, you might just be tempted to call it a failure with no further proof needed – but that’s not all the trouble Test and Trace is facing.

As per this BBC report, the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) seems to be treating the app like “a virus” in its own right, and judging by the language used, as a security risk of some kind.

Namely, members of the police have been told not to install the app on their work devices, and to basically ignore alerts from it, if they have it on their private phones. And while they cannot be stopped from having the app on their own phones, officers are asked not to bring those to work.

The warning applies to cops on the street, as well as logistics and administrative staff.

Clearly, the NPCC was not going to engage in any transparent and to-the-point language to describe what’s really behind the decision, given that the app is coming from the NHS; instead, a spokesperson said the reasoning behind the move was the council’s desire to have “confidence that the NHS app will work for officers and staff consistently across the country.”

The spokesperson at the same time made sure to say there are no actual security implications around using the app, but without providing any more details.

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