The NHS Test and Trace system kicked off this month, which sees contact tracers reaching out to people who have tested positive, getting all of their personal data, and asking for the same data of everyone you've been in contact with. Data that can be used to identify you. And it's all been leaked.
This is the same system that is currently facing a legal challenge and launched without completing the legally required data protection impact assessment. It's still operating without it. The same system that health secretary Matt Hancock threatened to make mandatory if people didn't do what they're told and cough up their personal details, and hand over the same for everyone they've been in contact with. And now a leaked copy of the data has made its way into Channel 4's hands (and who knows who else's) which is a huge fucking problem, and demonstrates that it's actually a pile of dog shit. Not a massive surprise given the state it was in a week before it went live, but this just gets more ridiculous by the day.
The leaked data spans the Test and Trace launch on Thursday, May 28, to Sunday, 31. In that window of time, 4,456 cases of COVID-19 cases were reported, with 1,831 of those being people who have self-registered on the designated portal, or who had been called and completed the NHS Test and Trace form that collects data on close contacts. From those people, a list of 4,634 contacts was handed over, which is a lot considering the lockdown rules we should have all been abiding by during that time. Of those 4,634 people, only 1,749 were contacted. That's just under 38 per cent.
If we put aside the giant issue of leaked data for a moment, the leaked stats paint a very different picture to Hancock's spin; the man has stood in front of the press and told them Test and Trace has been "successful" so far. I don't know what metric he uses to count something as a win, but I suspect it's the same bar his mum used when he was growing up to make him believe he had anything of value to offer the world. And look at the fallout of that - he's in the government now, bandying about threats should anyone not want to comply with his shitty, legally questionable tracking program.
25,000 people were hired as contact tracers, and Hancock has said that that's actually more than needed as the level of cases is going down. That was in response to a question probing the health secretary about reports from contact tracers that they had bugger all to do all day. He didn't address the actual reasons the contact tracers gave for sitting about with their thumbs up their arses, which included no training, and being left unattended for entire work days with no one reaching out to tell these new employees, waiting to be trained, what it is they were supposed to be doing.
Hancock also said that the majority of the 9,000 people who had tested positive for COVID-19 since the launch of Test and Trace had been contacted, despite admitting he didn't have those figures. No worries, Matt. Just pull it out of the depths of your arse, where you gestate all of your other ideas. Prof. John Newton, testing co-ordinator, said the numbers would be "available soon" although I can't imagine he thought they'd come to light via a leak, adding that the "numbers of tests feeding through and contacts being identified are high" and that "the system is working well."
Having had a gander, words like "successful" and "working well" aren't the first ones that spring to mind. And this is before the horribly invasive companion app launches later this month, that's mired in problems, including legal challenges of its own.
And if we may take a moment to come full circle, the data has leaked, less than a week in. The data collection, the nature of the information being stored, and how long the government intends to keep it, are all major issues right now, and here we are with a giant leak already. We'll see what excuses Hancock can find during his next rectal forage to dismiss the situation out of hand. [Channel 4]
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