• Tracey Twynham

Data in the News – October 2020


NHS Covid-19 app: How England and Wales' contact-tracing service works

The NHS automated contact-tracing app has finally launched and the technology will be used to tell people to self-isolate if their phone detects they were near someone later determined to have the virus.


But there's more, the app also includes:

  • a venue check-in barcode scanner

  • a postcode-based risk-level checker

  • a symptoms-reporter tool

  • the means to order a coronavirus test and receive its results

  • a countdown timer to keep track of how long to stay in self-isolation

  • a guide to the latest advice on local restrictions, financial support and other related information

You can access the app (for smartphones only - not tablets, smartwatches or other devices) by going to Android's Google Play or Apple's App Store and search for "NHS Covid-19".

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Your Personal Data is the Currency of the Digital Age

The commodification of the internet in the early 1990s brought western societies into the digital age and has changed the way consumers interact with commercial enterprises.

The digital industry companies have one thing in common: the use of the user’s personal data through technology to gain competitive advantage.


Spotify, Amazon, eBay, Apple, Google Play: these corporations have reached a level of product and service customisation never seen before. Spotify’s algorithm, for example, offers you artists and playlists based on your age, gender, location and listening history.

Management researchers are interested in these new forms of commerce for two main reasons: they mark a break with conventional business models and tend to do better during crises.

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Gartner: By 2023, 65% of the world will have personal data covered under modern privacy regulations

By 2023, 65% of the world’s population will have its personal data covered under modern privacy regulations, up from 10% in 2020, according to Gartner.


“With more countries introducing modern privacy laws in the same vein as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the world has reached a threshold where the European baseline for handling personal information is now the de facto global standard,” says Nader Henein, research vice president at Gartner.


“Lawmakers are introducing new privacy laws that seek parity with the GDPR. These regulations allow whole countries to move one step closer to achieving adequacy with the EU, where their local businesses can benefit from a larger market with their new “trusted” status.”


While some organisations focused on cost optimisation during the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is paramount that they incorporate the demands of a rapidly evolving privacy landscape into their business’s data strategy.

“Security and risk management (SRM) leaders need to help their organisation adapt their personal data handling practices without exposing the business to loss through fines or reputational damages," says Henein.


Gartner says SRM leaders should adopt key capabilities that support increasing volume, variety and velocity of personal data by putting in place a three-stage technology-enabled privacy program: establish, maintain and evolve.

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Facebook’s vow to pull out of Europe reflects EU-US data transfer divide

Facebook has warned that it may pull out of Europe following a preliminary order from the Irish data watchdog to ban the sharing of European citizens’ data with the US.

The Dublin court could enforce this year’s landmark ruling by the European court of justice (ECJ) which found that the EU-US Privacy Shield fails to safeguard snooping by US authority. The tech giant’s vow to withdraw from Europe is a warning that the EU and US might be caught in a privacy trade war and that Washington needs a federal data privacy law as soon as possible.


In the background, the end of the Privacy Shield is also likely to affect future data transfers between the EU and UK after the end of the post-Brexit transition period in December.

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Concerns raised over Uber’s data sharing with UK police

Uber hands thousands of vital ‘pieces of intelligence’ to UK authorities each year, complying with over 2,000 requests for data in the capital alone last year.

The information emerged at a London court last week as the ride-hailing company fights to regain its licence to operate in the city, with a final decision expected on 28 September.


Concerns have been raised as to the exact nature of the data shared with authorities, and whether this is being leveraged by Uber to support its case for a licence.

James Farrar, General Secretary of the App Drivers & Couriers Union, which represents thousands of ride-hailing drivers across the UK, said he was “deeply concerned” about the levels of surveillance and intelligence-gathering on the Uber platform.


“With Uber’s licence hanging by a thread, the rideshare giant is particularly vulnerable to undue pressure from police and regulatory authorities to compromise the personal data protection rights of their drivers, couriers and passengers,” Farrar said.

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And finally …

Venues required by law to record contact details

Premises and venues across England must have a system in place to record contact details of their customers, visitors and staff in the latest move to break the chains of transmission of coronavirus.


Businesses and other public settings where people meet socially including hospitality, close contact and leisure venues must record contact details of customers, visitors and staff on their premises to tackle the spread of coronavirus. Details must be stored for 21 days and shared with NHS Test and Trace, if requested and fixed penalties will apply for organisations that do not comply


Premises and venues across England like pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas must have a system in place by law to record contact details of their customers, visitors and staff in the latest move to break the chains of transmission of coronavirus.

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