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COVID-19 Contact Tracing App Series


The UK Government’s new NHSX contact tracing app has sparked debate around the implications for data privacy. The app, aimed to reduce transmission of the coronavirus by alerting people who may have been exposed, plays a crucial role in the 'test, track, and trace' element of the Government's policies.

The Government would like as many people as possible to download the app and validate their identities. The idea is relatively simple: if someone experiences symptoms of the coronavirus, they can inform the NHS through the app, which can make use of location data to track those they’ve been in near contact with, alert them, and offer advice, including asking them to self-isolate.

Despite the app’s positive aim to reduce transmission of the virus, it has negative implications for data privacy, smart technology, bias and inclusion, misinformation, and more generally, the use of technology in public policy.

Research from the DMA reveals that 42% of professionals surveyed are concerned about the negative impact the UK Government’s ‘Test, track, and trace’ programme could have on consumers’ general willingness to share personal data in the future.

On the other hand, half of professionals (49%) surveyed in the DMA’s Data Privacy: An Industry Perspective report believe consumer trust in how brands handle their data has improved since GDPR began.

To raise the standard of debate, the DMA is publishing an article series as part of the Value of Data campaign, featuring the opinions of experts from public policy, academia, and the industry.

Click the names below for their in-depth insights.

Dr Philipa Whitford MP
SNP Spokesperson for Health and Europe and breast cancer surgeon

Daisy Cooper MP
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport

Professor Luciano Floridi
Member of the NHS COVID-19 App Data Ethics Advisory Board and Director of the Digital Ethics Lab at the University of Oxford

John Nicolson MP
SNP Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Areeq Chowdhury
Director of WebRoots Democracy

Olivia Gambelin
Founder and CEO of Ethical Intelligence and AI Ethicist

Nick Deyong
CEO of NDL Group and Co-Founder and CEO of Promotigo

Tom Pressley
Vice President, Everbridge emergency communications

The Value of Data interrogates and uncovers the real value of data, helping brands and businesses harness its power. The campaign is led by the DMA Scotland Council, academic partner the University of Edinburgh, and sponsor Merkle. Learn more, here.

Hear more from the DMA

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