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You Must Own A Smartphone To Visit Britain

I’ve not heard of it being necessary to own a specific piece of electronic equipment to visit a country before. But this seems to be the insistence here:

All travellers arriving in the UK could be forced to download the new NHS contact tracing app, Grant Shapps has suggested.

The Transport Secretary revealed the Government is considering making possession of the app on smartphones mandatory for visitors in order to keep the coronavirus infection rate down.

This isn’t going to work of course but then such off the cuff political insistences never do. For not only is this an insistence that the smartphone exists, it’s also one that it must remain turned on all the time. If it’s not tracking the movement of the person then it’s not useful. It can only track movement if it’s on.

Further, it can be rather expensive in overseas bandwidth*. Anyone using the app will indeed need to have UK spectrum signed up and paid for. Or, obviously, whatever arrangements their home airtime provider has, not all of which are affordable.

Sure, my technical knowledge is minimal but I do forsee the odd problem with this idea.

*This assumes that the app will interrogate the towers as to location at regular intervals, requiring that data bandwidth. Dunno, but seems reasonable to me.

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CJ Nerd
CJ Nerd
11 months ago

It will use Bluetooth, which has a range of about 10 feet.

It will only interact with the mobile phone towers occasionally, to receive or report who says they have the dreaded lurgy.

It will not report where one was, it will just record proximity to to other users of the app.

It will not require a specific piece of electronic equipment. It will require an Android or iOS (Apple) phone, and these between them account for about 99% of the market.

A bracelet version for people without phones is being developed.

Stuart Pembery
Stuart Pembery
11 months ago
Reply to  CJ Nerd

Like the necklace in Cloud Atlas

CJ Nerd
CJ Nerd
11 months ago
Reply to  CJ Nerd

Interesting explanation of it here:
https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/blog-post/security-behind-nhs-contact-tracing-app
but article about it here says it won’t work because it relies on invalid technical assumptions:
https://www.theregister.co.uk/AMP/2020/05/05/uk_coronavirus_app/

My comments above assumed they were going with the decentralised design. It turns out they’re doing the centralised one, so privacy concernes are raised somewhat.

Matt
Matt
11 months ago

Government-developed app. Using Bluetooth. Going to request access to everything on the device in order to run (because working out what is actually needed is a non-zero effort that isn’t included in the specification) — and user has no choice but to accept in order to run the app.

Does nobody else see problems with this?

Pat
Pat
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Just a few. For a start Bluetooth would need to be permanently on, creating a pretty big vulnerability for just about anyone to h hack your phone. It cannot detect what you have touched, a major source of infection, only whether you have come close to a person of interest, so it will be of little use in tracking the disease. I’m sure that C19 is the government ‘s only interest at the moment – but that will change. Briefly I doubt if it will do the nominal job, but it will render the populace more vulnerable to bad actors,… Read more »

Spike
Spike
11 months ago
Reply to  Pat

During my gig in Reading, I went to Speaker’s Corner several weekends and to the pub almost nightly. Surely I came “close to a person of interest.” And with so many false positives coming in, investigators can pursue whichever they fancy.

You’re also right that government’s interest will widen beyond Covid, as any power a political system has is used for any of its purposes, notably maintaining itself in power.

Phoenix44
Phoenix44
11 months ago

So why do we not do this already so that we know who murders whom? Or who burgles whom? Etc etc.

I’m not suggesting that is what I want, but if we don’t accept it for murder, we are we accepting it for this stupid little virus?

Bloke on M4
Bloke on M4
11 months ago

Anyone forced to install the app, who really doesn’t want it, will uninstall it 5 minutes after leaving Heathrow. Of course, this idiotic app design doesn’t work for these people because it’s national, unlike the global Google/Apple design. You lose all contact tracing from Xavier to the boulanger, the bloke who sells him Gauloises and his mistress. Me, I’m not installing it, because it’s a government solution. Which means some dickhead at the ministry specified the requirements to another dickhead who selected the vendor, who are also dickheads, and the whole thing will be tested by dickheads. The normal effect… Read more »

John B
John B
11 months ago

Switch Bluetooth OFF.

Switch localisation for the app, or the phone, OFF.

Keep phone in Airplane Mode except when needed.

Politicians have little knowledge of and do not understand technology – or much else it increasingly becomes clear.

jgh
jgh
11 months ago

Keeping bluetooth on is going the drain the battery pretty smarthish isn’t it?

CJ Nerd
CJ Nerd
11 months ago
Reply to  jgh

Part of the reason it’s taken so long is that they’ve had to liaisewith Apple to address that. They’ve come up with a mode where Blutooth switches on and off every few seconds.

Bloke in North Dorset
Bloke in North Dorset
11 months ago

Of course its only a temporary measure, until we have a vaccine for C19, so why should we fear it?

As the great man said, there’s nothing as permanent as a temporary government measure.

We can also expect any questions about privacy and freedom to be met with the purely evil response of “if you’ve nothing to hide ….”.

Mr Angry
Mr Angry
11 months ago

It was the Great Ronald Reagan who observed that the nearest thing to Eternal Life on Earth was a Government Project. Frankly, I have no intention of ever using it not simply because of privacy issues but looking at the history of our government’s successes (there must be one?) this three-legged donkey entrant for the Derby will arrive a year late and a dollar short.

Spike
Spike
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Angry

And before Reagan, Thomas Jefferson: “…how are vacancies to be obtained? Those by death are few; by resignation, none.”

Submitting to tracking by Her Majesty’s Government would be a deal-breaker for me too, on visiting the UK again. But it’s moot, as the US Transportation Security Agency is a deal-breaker on getting there.

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