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Patent published for digital footprint approach to identify COVID super-spreaders

Patent published for digital footprint approach to identify COVID super-spreaders

A patent has been published for a process which would collate vast swathes of personal information harvested from digital activity, including biometric data, to assess individual’s behavior with a view to giving a calculation for their priority for a COVID vaccination. More simply put, a way to work out who’s digital behavior suggests risky real-world behavior.

The patent is described as ‘Methods and systems of prioritizing treatments, vaccination, testing and/or activities while protecting the privacy of individuals.’ It was published at the end of August to patent attorneys Gal Ehrlich and Maier Fenster of Ehrlich & Fenster, as spotted by Reclaim the Net.

The system proposed would combine a target’s online presence along with medical records, electronic payments, employment record, location data and even surveillance footage to build a profile of their risk of acquiring or spreading COVID. It incorporates facial recognition data and motion/location data to determine whether they are on public transport.

It even goes as far as seeking to access device microphones to determine whether there are sounds of hands being washed. Accessing device cameras could assess whether the owner is wearing a mask.

Visiting crowded places such as places of worship or nightclubs would increase a person’s score. The higher the score the greater the priority for vaccination.

Scottish vaccination app ‘shares data with Amazon’

Meanwhile, far simpler systems are proving problematic. Scotland’s COVID vaccination health pass grants access to personal data of users to private firms according to an investigation by Scotland’s Sunday Mail, sister title to the Daily Record.

The digital health pass app developed for NHS Scotland to provide a QR code for accessing certain venues is allowing access to the data by Amazon, Microsoft, the Royal Mail and digital identity firms Jumio and iProov, causing a backlash among civil liberties campaigners. There is no consent or opt out, according to the Sunday Mail, which states that “It is claimed that not all of the firms can ‘access’ the data, even though it is ‘shared’.”

“Scottish Liberal Democrats have repeatedly warned the Government that data protection is virtually non-existent – a simple screenshot was enough to bypass whatever ‘security measures’ the system had in place. The launch was a shambles and the IT system struggled to cope,” the Sunday Mail quotes Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton as saying.

“Everyone has the right to medical privacy, nobody should ever have to provide part of their medical history to a bouncer or a series of private companies. That is just simply absurd.”

The first weekend of enforcement of Scotland’s health pass required for entry to places such as nightclubs and soccer grounds saw hundreds of people turned away, staff abused and venues choosing to close early, the BBC reports.

The system was introduced at the beginning of October with a 17-day grace period. It requires a person to have had a full vaccine course in order to enter ‘analogue venues.’ It operates via a smartphone or paper-based QR code.

“The experience of this weekend shows that the result has been intolerable levels of abuse of our staff, and the creation of an atmosphere that will totally undermine anyone’s enjoyment of our night-time venues,” Scottish Hospitality Group spokesperson Stephen Montgomery told the BBC.

“Turning people away at the door – yes, I get the point to a degree – but all it’s doing is sending them somewhere else, a dancefloor that has tables and chairs on it that does away with dancing.”

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