The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care has announced that coronavirus contact tracing apps across the UK, Jersey, and Gibraltar are now interoperable. The Scottish, Northern Irish and Jersey apps have all been speaking to each other since the end of October but an update to the NHS COVID-19 app and the Beat COVID Gibraltar app means all the apps in the territories can speak to each other.
With England going back into lockdown from today, travel to different areas of the UK will be greatly reduced but for those who have no choice but to travel, their contact tracing app will be a lot more useful.
To prevent another round of fear, uncertainty and doubt about the app, the Department of Health and Social Care said that the interoperability will not compromise the app’s commitment to privacy. It said:
“After entering a positive test result, NHS Covid-19 app users are asked if they wish to share their random, unique IDs. If a user consents, these ‘keys’ will now be shared with other contact tracing apps, as well as NHS Covid-19 users. This use of secure keys means that at all times personal data continues to be held on the users [sic] device, it does not leave it, and therefore no personal data is shared with outside agencies such as the government or police.”
The government also took the opportunity to mention that the NHS COVID-19 app was now being used by more than 19 million adults across England and Wales. With the app notifying people to stay at home if it thinks they could have coronavirus, it allows for a break in the chain of infection which inhibits the virus.