The UK will be tested a new app next week that will allow users to ‘self-diagnose’ themselves as having or suspected of having the COVID-19 virus. Users can mark themselves as infected which will then warn other users of the app if they come into close proximity of the virus.
The BBC reports:
The UK has confirmed plans for an app that will warn users if they have recently been in close proximity to someone suspected to have be infected by the coronavirus.
The health secretary Matt Hancock announced the move at the government’s daily pandemic press briefing.
The BBC has learned that NHSX – the health service’s digital innovation unit – will test a pre-release version of the software with families at a secure location in the North of England next week.
At present, the idea is that people who have self-diagnosed as having coronavirus will be able to declare their status in the app.
This is the first in a whole wave of new ‘contact tracing’ apps and development tools. Google and Apple have announced the upcoming release of their new API’s which will allow developers to create contact tracing apps much quicker. Google and Apple boh promise user privacy is their key concern, however I’d take such promises with a pinch of salt.
This new breed of society monitoring applications is concerning, where does it end?
These same tools could be used for a whole range of things, from tracking vaccination status to prior crimes status. Before long we could, and of course they could be able to build a profile of entire populations. People would begin their own self-imposed social distancing from those that don’t comply with the same set of social guidelines as themselves.
It’s a dangerous road to take, and while this is a voluntary service which people can use at their own will, it could and I believe will probably become so widely used that those who choose not to use such systems will themselves be under suspicion by others within society and authorities.