VST Enterprises (VSTE), a British cyber security company, has highlighted a number of serious and major flaws in the proposed Bluetooth proximity apps that are current being discussed as a way of tracking the COVID 19 virus.
VSTE claims that the use of Bluetooth and proximity apps alone to help track and identify whether someone is infected with COVID 19 will lead to a series of major issues, These include mass population anxiety around real time tracking and GPS data mapping; mass concerns around the policing or non-policing of data being uploaded; public and government reliance on the data that could be subject to false flag ‘bad actor’ attacks, or the potential for hacking and manipulation of data by a rogue state.
VSTE, which announced plans last week to provide a unique digital health passport to help get critical care health workers in the NHS back on the frontline, also confirmed it was launching a health passport to help kick start the £24 billion UK Sports economy. The company is engaged at present in talks with various sporting and regulatory bodies across football, golf, rugby, tennis and F1 in the UK and globally. It is also actively in dialogue with the UK Government and with other key stakeholders.
Louis-James Davis CEO of VSTE said that the tracing technology that is being proposed was fundamentally flawed.
There are many issues around real time tracking, GPS data mapping which will naturally create anxiety amongst the population. Throw into the mix, issues surrounding privacy and the State or big corporates having access will create further panic and concern.
Lord Jonathan Evans, the former head of Britain’s domestic intelligence agency MI5, has also publicly stated his concerns over the issues surrounding privacy and tracking the movements of all UK citizens. The former spy chief warned that in adopting such measures would provoke a human rights backlash on privacy grounds.
Davis explains: “The public have always been nervous around a Government or a big corporate knowing their ‘real-time’ whereabouts or ‘real-time’ daily travel activity. Given that most major corporates are renowned for selling advertisements or push ‘suggestions’ based on device voice recordings and geo sensitive insights, only heightens anxiety when you could now add a health data set. The proposition of having a health app that is ‘opt-in’ and filled with self-diagnosed triage information is mostly worthless to society. More anxiety and discrimination will come from wondering who is being honest and who even has the app on their phones.”
Only 79% of adults over 18 have a smart phone in the U.K and under 18’s may not have a smart phone either. This means the real-time information data cannot be captured for those without the app, leaving a major hole in the data set. In other countries, it is reported that 1 in 6 smart-phone users have opted into this style of app.
VSTE’s approach with its technology offers a much more pragmatic solution. VCode and VPlatform are VSTE technology behind its digital health passport ‘V-COVID. The passport can be interacted with by scanning a VCode outside of the recommended 2m zone, keeping all those safe. The VPlatform does not track real-time data of VCode app users, It only records location data for where they have scanned or have been scanned. The Government or health care professionals will see interaction data from scans and will gain a much more accurate data set between those who have come into contact with each other and those who are in their different stages of their traffic light journey. Non-smartphone users can still display an image of their VCode (stored as a photo) on their device, key fob or printout.
On the issue and concerns on the Policing of data VSTE’s Davis adds: “With the pandemic causing so many deaths, it is worrying that the Government would think about backing an app that is self opt-in and self updating purely for the fact it could be and most definitely will be abused. The app may install a false sense of hope and may cause more people to mingle. They won’t know that they are infected until they show symptoms which is no better than not having the app in the first place.”
If a digital health passport is in action and mandated using VCode the Government can gradually ease the population back into daily life in a staged and tiered process. Those in essential services such as critical care and health workers first, followed by other blue light emergency services and then logistics, utilities and key infrastructure, banking and finance. Testing and heath care passports can be managed through the NHS or a relevant health care providers.
The VCovid digital health passport carriers would find comfort that this has been administered formally by a health professional. People are notified they are allowed to resume a semi-normal daily life after their passport is granted in line with Government guidelines while maintaining their safe distance, which is facilitated by an easy to use technology that offers speed, convenience and safety.