A new virus-tracking app, Covid-19 Alert, was presented to the government of the Netherlands recently but has already been abandoned due to security concerns.
An RTL Nieuws report explained that the app was presented to the Netherlands’ Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, but when the app’s source code was posted online, it was found to contain user data which had originated in another application (via ZDnet).
The source code was published online to determine if the app was suitable for the Ministry and for public use. However, the alarming presence of almost 200 full names, hashed user passwords and email addresses caused alarm and saw the app sidelined.
A spokesperson for the app said the information was “accidentally put online” as the company hurried to make the app’s source code available for public scrutiny. However accidental this was – and it seems very – it’s still a huge breach of privacy and doesn’t bode well for the future of the Covid-19 Alert app.
The app was originally intended to help track and limit the spread of coronavirus. Users could be warned if they were at risk, or update their status if they tested positive for the virus. This would allow the government to better collect data on the spread of the virus and more effectively apply quarantines and other regulation.
It is believed that the NHS is working on a similar app for use in the UK. Hopefully this could reduce the spread of the virus across the country.
These apps are the latest in a string of proposed digital solutions to the spread of coronavirus. However, authorities are yet to find a reliable digital tracker to collect data.