The government needs to tell us more about the NHSX contact tracing app – choices made now around privacy and transparency will affect all our lives as we aim to ease lockdown, says the shadow digital minister

As the pandemic drives us physically apart, technology is bringing us together. In a matter of weeks, whole sections of our workforce have moved online. Broadcasters are delivering an incredible range of informative, educational and entertaining content, from their presenters’ homes. Parliament has gone digital, moving from the 17th century to the 21st century in three weeks. Schools and supermarkets are reconfiguring for online delivery. We play, work, shop and learn online. The Covid-19 virus has caused a mass flight to the internet and some of the few winners will be the online platforms and tech companies who quickly adapt to these crisis times. A few months ago talk was of tech’s “trust gap” – now it is seen as our saviour.

Nowhere is this more apparent than contact tracing. Almost as quickly as the virus spread so did tech “solutions”. Over the last few weeks, secretary of state for health, Matt Hancock – who launched himself as an app when culture secretary – has made numerous references to a “smart app” under development by NHSX, the innovation arm of the NHS.

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