Government ditches NHSX tracing app for Google Apple version

Stephen Chapman's picture

Just hours after admitting that the new contact tracing app for Covid-19 was no longer a priority, the Government has announced that it’s abandoning the original model.

It’s now set to use the technology created by Apple and Google, which is said to provide additional privacy for users by decentralising the data.

The UK had originally refused to use this option, because it wanted to centralise data collection, to allow for more in-depth analysis, to study and track the pandemic.

Privacy critics warned that this system may mean data could be improperly accessed;  used later for other reasons; or be hacked.

The decision has come following the arrival of former Apple exec, Simon Thompson, who’s joined the Government’s Track and Trace team, specifically to lead on the app development.

The Apple/Google design is being used by the Republic of Ireland and Germany amongst other countries. Germany released its app earlier this week and has had more than 6.5m downloads in 24 hours.

Like the UK, Germany had originally tried to develop its own version, only to abandon it. The app was created by Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, which published the source code on GitHub to reassure people who were concerned about the privacy of their data.

According to the Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s Technology Correspondent the NHS has been testing both systems side-by-side:

Embedded rich media on Twitter

The Government is expected to officially announce the change at a briefing later today.