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Written Statements

Volume 675: debated on Tuesday 5 May 2020

Written Statements

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Health and Social Care

NHS Covid-19 App

Yesterday we launched the NHS covid-19 app (“the app”) for initial roll-out on the Isle of Wight over the next two weeks.

This is the first phase in the development and roll-out of a national “test and trace” programme which will bring together the app, expanded web and phone-based contact tracing, and swab testing for those with potential covid-19 symptoms. This is a vital part of our plans as we move towards the second phase in our battle against covid-19.

The app has been built by a team including world-leading doctors, scientists and tech experts. If someone installs the app, it will start logging the distance between their phone and other phones nearby that also have the app installed. If a person becomes unwell with symptoms of covid-19, they can report this through the app, which will then anonymously alert other app users that they have come into significant contact with over the previous few days and provide appropriate advice. The app, which takes full consideration of privacy and security, has already been tested in closed conditions at an RAF base.

This initial roll-out will provide valuable insights into how the public respond to and use the app and how we can improve it further. There will be no changes to social distancing measures during this initial roll-out phase.

Using the app is voluntary but the more residents who download the app, the more informed our national response will be. The Isle of Wight is leading the way for the UK, for which we thank them.

The more rapidly we can identify people at risk of infection and provide them with advice on what action they should take, the more effectively we can reduce the spread of the virus. The test and trace programme will play an increasingly important part in our wider strategy to save lives and protect the health and care system.

Further details of the national roll-out will be available soon.

[HCWS222]

Home Department

Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group: Annual Report

My noble Friend the Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) has today made the following written statement:

Today I am pleased to announce the publication of the second annual report of the Biometrics and Forensic Ethics Group. The group provides Ministers with independent advice on matters relating to data ethics and ethical issues in forensic science and biometrics.

I would like to thank the group for its strategic advice concerning the use and retention of biometric identifiers and for its advice on the development and testing of new biometric technologies.

The group has made four recommendations covering the testing and use of live facial recognition technologies by police forces; the design and implementation of data privacy impact assessments with the Home Office; and the use of familial DNA analysis results in assessing the value of genetic genealogy techniques for law enforcement.

In addition, the group continues to recommend a review of biometric retention and deletion schedules, particularly regarding custody images.

The Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group annual report can be viewed on the website of the group at: https://www. gov.uk/government/organisations/biometrics-and-forensics-ethics-group and a copy will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS223]