According to a new report, a lack of clarity from the government is leaving people worried that the NHSX Covid-19 contact-tracing app will expose them to a heightened risk of cyber-attack, and that the app will be used to track their location and collect data on them.
The report revealed that 43% of respondents were concerned that the app would give cybercriminals an opportunity to run manipulative phishing campaigns that was too good to pass up, while a further 33% of respondents feared the government might use the app to track their whereabouts, and slightly more than that – 36% – were worried that the app might be used to collect data on them.
Even with the advancements of artificial intelligence and processing power to identify people from biometrics, it is far from reliable technology. It is why trained human operators will be needed in conjunction with such software for the foreseeable future in order to eliminate false positives or false negatives.
One of the biggest challenges with this kind of software is they rely on quite basic pattern matching which can be bypassed quite easily with shadows, tattoos and so forth. We\’ve seen issues with facial recognition before in misidentifying people of colour or minorities. This is often due to lack of diversity in the development and testing teams, which is why it\’s important that any organisations developing such technologies ensures there is appropriate diversity and have a strong code of ethics to dictate what is or isn\’t appropriate development practices.
Surveillance creep is a big concern with contact tracing apps. Once we start to allow surveillance into our lives, it\’s difficult to remove it later. In China for instance, it appears state-controlled tracing apps are going to become a permanent fixture of everyday life. Eventually, intrusions into our daily lives that would have been met with public outcry a few years ago now seem acceptable. Businesses and governments could abuse the data for their own gains, and hackers could breach the data and steal it. Surveillance also has a chilling effect on freedoms of movement and assembly.