Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, said her office would take action against the government if it “overstepped” and the app strayed from its limited emergency contact tracing function.
His comments come as ministers seek to change the app in the wake of the “pingdemia,” which is causing widespread disruption across the country as hundreds of thousands of people receive self-isolation notifications.
In an interview with The Telegraph, the commissioner, who is due to resign at the end of October at the end of her term, also warned ministers that the British public is “very suspicious” of any scheme that looks like business cards. identity and that any use of national vaccination passports should only be valid for a limited period.
Ministers are under increasing pressure on the NHS Covid-19 app, which hit a record 600,000 people this week, leading to transport disruptions and fears of food shortages as workers self-isolate in droves.
Keeping an eye on the government
Ms Denham said the app had been a “necessary” tool for the government at the height of the pandemic, but her office is now closely monitoring its development.
When it was originally developed last year, ministers wanted to create a version of the app that would collect anonymized data about users on a single large NHS database.
However, they had to back down after a series of technical issues, and the switch to a version built by Apple and Google that kept more user data on their phones allayed many of the initial privacy concerns.
Ms Denham said she was now keen to guard against ‘function creep’ and the possibility of Whitehall evolving the app into a more permanent feature of British life.