A new version of a United Kingdom government Covid-19 contact tracing app has been delayed, reportedly after privacy concerns were raised by Apple and Google

The NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app was due to be updated last week in time for the re-opening of non-essential retail and outside dining and drinking this week.

To date, it has allowed people to check into indoor places by scanning a QR code before they enter but the data was kept on the individual’s phone. Should a venue be identified as a potential virus hotspot, every device is then sent this data, allowing the app to crosscheck with the owner’s own log.

The update would have enabled users testing positive to upload their entire history of venues visited.

This sharing of data would have been used to automatically trigger alerts to people who visited the same venues to get a Covid-19 test.

However Google and Apple, who jointly developed the app, have raised concerns about the update, according to PA Media. They have reportedly said it breaches their privacy rules which state the app’s Exposure Notifications System must not share location data from a user’s device with the “Public Health Authority, Apple or Google.”

A Department of Health spokesperson confirmed the app has been delayed but has not said why. He said: “The deployment of the functionality of the NHS Covid-19 App to enable users to upload their venue history has been delayed.

“This does not impact the functionality of the app and we remain in discussions with our partners to provide beneficial updates to the app which protect the public.”

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