NHS England has announced that they are working on a smartphone app to track everyone’s location which will be used to track people who have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. This is vitally important as part of a test, track and isolate policy, which until we get a vaccine is the only way out of a total lockdown.

READ MORE: Joanna Cherry: Digital coronavirus fight must not hit human rights

However it is also, as Joanna Cherry wrote, a massive invasion of privacy and must be done with privacy at its heart and be seen to be working as such by those who want to use it. We know the government has mass surveillance operations as part of its Tempora programme with GCHQ, which are passed to the NSA. The UK Government broke our trust with this programme and must be shown to respect it with a deliberate tracking app.

The only way to do that is to ensure the app is open source. All source code must be published. This is how computers that run the internet are secure, and allows for collaborative development including debugging and security checks. There will certainly be no shortage of researchers thrilled to get their eyes working on checking over the app for best practice in terms of security and privacy.

READ MORE: Scottish Government should have acted quicker on coronavirus, think tank says

There also needs to be an independent scrutineer to check that those with access to the data we submit to this app have only the access necessary. The UK Government often hands this task over to the National Cyber Security Centre at GCHQ, which is the same organisation tasked with doing mass surveillance of our communications – a clear conflict of interest. It must be an independent organisation not run by spies.

If the UK Government cannot take these simple steps to keep us safe from their abuses then the Scottish Government must recommend against using the NHS England app and create their own using best practice open-source methods.

Jonathan Riddell
Chair, OpenUK Awards Committee, openuk.uk

AFTER Covid-19 has subsided we must tackle inequality by making sure the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes and clamp down on offshore investments, trust funds and the use of tax havens by companies and individuals.

However, the signs are not encouraging when Dominic Raab dismissed Ian Blackford’s call at PMQs for a Universal Basic Income, and less so when the new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer aligned himself with the Tories and the DUP by failing to sign the cross-party petition, which included many Labour MPs, calling on the Chancellor to introduce a Recovery Universal Basic Income in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Last week Reform Scotland published a briefing paper, One For All: The Case for a Basic Income Guarantee, proposing that every citizen, regardless of income, gender or employment status, receive a set amount of money, free of tax, but in place of personal allowances, tax credits and a number of other benefits which would ensure no one would slip through the complex net of DWP bureaucracy. Reform Scotland suggests it is set at £5,200 per year for adults plus £2,600 per year for each child.

Fraser Grant

I AM entirely with Lesley Riddoch (Every crisis proves small works best – once this is over we must think indy, April 23) – we must come out of this crisis running or our cause is knocked back years. The utter shambles we see of the UK state and the UK economy are what must be exposed and recognised widely. Otherwise the “run to mummy” reaction, which is the effect this crisis has on the uninformed, will damage us.

Of course “wise voices” are telling us that this is not the time to “bring politics” into it. Well, of course they would. So let’s not bring politics into it. Let’s just bring truth.

READ MORE: UK coronavirus response strengthens case for Scottish independence

Our opponents of course have not been slow off the mark. Newspaper letters pages exploding. Collapsing oil prices. Big handouts from the UK money box. Scottish economy collapsing and so on and so on.

More than ever our people need to know that we are economically viable. That we feed ourselves, power ourselves and have more natural resources than any other of the many independent small countries all around the world.

That all the small countries are dealing with this crisis better. That decades of under-investment and austerity is destroying our public services and our NHS. That the failed state that is the UK doesn’t have a big box of money. Doesn’t have a money tree.

Instead it has just invented a vast some of money (half a trillion pounds perhaps?) to add to its £2,000,000,000,000 national debt. And we will all pay for that for years – or forever.

And that our choice now is to go down with the sinking ship or to strike out on our own and build the new and better country we have to start defining and designing now.

David McEwan Hill
Sandbank, Argyll

HAVING watched the First Minister’s press briefings I must congratulate her for her sangfroid in dealing with the inane, politically weighted, repetitive questions levelled at her by the so-called Scottish press. Her able colleagues deserve praise likewise for their restraint in the face of the so far most blatant examples of anti-SNP uninformed assertions yet made. The single advantage gained by the latter is that it makes distancing from each of those “journalists” not only advisable, but preferable.

Our Scottish Government team are doing a job for which they deserve our support, encouragement and approval, rather than the puerile criticisms advanced by the “Voice of Westminster”, which fails miserably to offer any comfort to our Scottish communities.

John Hamilton

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