Analysis Breaking comment

Oops. Hancock blames humiliating u-turn to dump Tories’ tracing app on Apple issue ‘every other country’ had – on day Japan launches its own and 40+ countries already have one

Humiliating: Tories app-dumping and Hancock’s attempted excuse

Tory Health Secretary Matt Hancock blundered humiliatingly today when he tried to shift blame for the government’s decision to dump his and Johnson’s (and Cummings’s) deficient coronavirus contact-tracing app and switch to a generic version made available for Android and Apple phones on a worldwide problem that had also stymied “every other country”.

Hancock made his toe-curlingly embarrassing claim on the same day that Japan launched its own app that works fine on Apple and Android phones:

But Hancock was not only embarrassed by Japan’s competence. As the prestigious Nikkei Asian Review pointed out this week in an article on the Japanese launch, more than forty other countries already have their own app:

These countries appear to have been well aware of the obvious need to work with the creators of the two main smartphone operating systems and did so without pouring unknown sums of money into an abortive attempt to launch one via a company with close links to Boris Johnson’s chief adviser. In spite of this, Hancock was unable to say when the generic version would be up and running in the UK.

Of course, the BBC and others have so far failed to make any serious challenge to Hancock’s patent nonsense.

The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here for a monthly donation via GoCardless. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.

If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.


  1. I wonder how much money this latest Tory ‘misjudgement’ has successfully transferred from the public to the private purse.

  2. Unfortunately Apple, quite unreasonably in Hancock’s opinion, expects developers to meet certain basic levels of competence, and that their apps actually work on the platform.

  3. Contact Tracing : ” Not recommended in any circumstances” (WHO – October 2019)

    Who is ill-informe enough to download such an app, anyway?

    1. RH – Why are you attempting to sow confusion by posting out of date and irrelevant quotes from the WHO.

  4. Apparently Apple & Google offered this free to all countries months ago AND IT WOULD NOT STORE YOUR DATA but the Tories didn’t take up the offer.
    Instead they gave a £108m contract to one of Cummings associates (?) a couple of years out of university?
    Once again Another Tory Disaster and tragically our daily Covid casualties are the highest by a long way in Europe.
    We are Champions of Europe in the Avysmal Response to Covid League Table!
    The Tories deserve the boot!

      1. brianbotou – I’d be a little surprised if they hadn’t received funding from government agencies but given the information the API collects and where it is retained it is difficult to see how your ‘revelations’ are relevant.

    1. brianbotou – The link you have provided appears to endorse the methodology of Google/Apple API.

      The scientists agree that the proposed Google-Apple technology using Bluetooth tech could accomplish the required data needs with the necessary privacy protections. But they warn the tech giants should avoid collecting privacy data from users, as “some who seek to build centralized systems are pressuring Google and Apple to open up their systems to enable them to capture more data.”

  5. The sinister potential of coronavirus lockdown to suppress dissent was on display on Monday as police broke up a small group of protestors outside Westminster Crown Court during a case management hearing for Julian Assange. The dozen protestors, who included Julian’s father John Shipton, were all social distancing at least 2 metres apart (except where living in the same household). The police did not observe social distancing as they broke up this small and peaceful protest.

    Matrix Chambers on the very alarming civil liberties implication of the approach to the tracing app by Boris Johnson’s government.

    There is no organisation or group with an interest in data privacy which is not sounding the alarm. The Register reports:

    Controversially, the NHSX app will beam that contact data back to government-controlled servers. The academics who signed today’s open letter fear that this data stockpile will become “a tool that enables data collection on the population, or on targeted sections of society, for surveillance.”
    As we reported yesterday, Britain has abandoned the international consensus on how much data should be collected to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
    The letter said:
    We hold that the usual data protection principles should apply: collect the minimum data necessary to achieve the objective of the application. We hold it is vital that if you are to build the necessary trust in the application the level of data being collected is justified publicly by the public health teams demonstrating why this is truly necessary rather than simply the easiest way, or a “nice to have”, given the dangers involved and invasive nature of the technology.

    1. brianbotou – Well first of all the NHSX app has been dumped so is no longer relevant to the discussion except to highlight the differences between the two different approaches. You should look closely at the data (and where it is stored) that the Google/Apple API collects and then tell us all where the flaw is. There was a reason the Tories didn’t want to use the G/A API.

      I’m struggling to see the connection between the API provided by Google and Apple and an Assange demo. Attempting to conflate these two issues adds nothing to the discussion.

      Banging on about how bad the UK’s App was is pointless now, everything changed at about 13:30 today when the Tories abandoned their spying attempt when they dumped their plans and admitting they would have to go with the Google/Apple solution.

      1. I posted the information about the NHSX to illustrate the government is not the benevolent entity you seem to believe it is. I can perfectly understand why you don’t want to highlight the malevolent nature of the state, especially, as the knight of the realm, the former DPP member of the right wing anti democratic Trilaterals, helped in the continuing persecution of the political prisoner Julian Assange. Now, as regards to Apple and Google being the solution, it’s noticeable you made no reference to the control the US security state have over these companies and by nature of the 5 eyes agreement it has with the U.K. government what they retain could be made available to the U.K..

      2. brianbotou – Oh for goodness sake do yourself a favour, educate yourself, and look at what the Google/Apple API actually does before proselytising any more of this nonsense.

        Where the f’ have I said the Tory Gov are a benevolent entity.

      3. brianbotou – You are not telling me anything I don’t already know but what the fuck does any of that have to do with ‘Track and Trace’ API that Google and Apple have created.

  6. Oh dear, “ Id would be surprised ….” . It appears you seem to believe that all the funding the US government gave will result in them having no access to the data that Apple and Google collect, despite I might add the revelations of Edward Snowden, alas that doesn’t happen in the real world. Does it!

    1. brianbotou – For goodness sake take some time out and bring yourself up to date with the current situation. Please also inform yourself about the Google/Apple API and what it actually facilitates rather than what you think it does.

      I suggest you also read the following.

      1. Unfortunately, the post and link you made has no basis on past factual events, evidence and proof as demonstrated by Edward Snowden revelations regarding PRISM, which to date neither the USA or the U.K. government s have refuted. Indeed, they issued arrest warrants for him because of betraying their secrets plus of course the Political prisoner, Julian Assange. Have a look at the evidence from Snowden and Assange instead of parroting the establishment’s narrative about the veracity of their tales and the latest yarn!

      2. brianbotou – I know but none of it relates to what this API actually does. Please, please look up the technical details. Also before you go off on another conspiracy theory in relation to this specific issue please consider that some of the best IT security experts in the world have had access to this code for some time now and they will have poured over every single line of this code and not one person has found anything malicious to date.

        Yes the NHSX code was designed to infringe our privacy from the get-go and it was also planned to sell it to the private sector to administrate it just as soon as it was up and running but that is now dead and gone. Unless you can provide any credible evidence to the contrary (which I and several of my ex-colleagues would be very interested to examine) I suggest there is very little point in discussing this further.

    2. The unconstitutional surveillance program at issue is called PRISM, under which the NSA, FBI, and CIA gather and search through Americans’ international emails, internet calls, and chats without obtaining a warrant. When Edward Snowden blew the whistle on PRISM in 2013, the program included at least nine major internet companies, including Facebook, Google, Apple, and Skype. Today, it very likely includes an even broader set of companies.

  7. SH.9.30pm. Neither the Tories nor the knight of the realm, which are part and parcel of the establishment, are benevolent for the majority of the people!

    1. brianbotou – Apart from being an attempted distraction WTF has that got to do with whether the G/A API protects users privacy.

  8. SV. 9.40pm. “ you are not telling me anything I don’t already know…”.

    Really. not by the way you seem to so eagerly to accept the notion that these technology companies have been partially funded from the outset by the US security establishment, have worked with them and have via Prism the technology to use software from these devices for their purpose.

    “ What the fuck …”. Oh dear, the use of profanity does not make your comment any more logical does it. The track record of the US security services for using the data from these technology companies has been well documented and you advocate give them more opportunity to use our data. You’re having a laugh.

    1. brianbotou – Nobody, least of all me is saying anything nice about the NSA, CIA, GCHQ etc etc. BUT as far as this specific API is concerned there is absolutely no evidence that it does anything nefarious. Lots and lots of very clever people who have an intimate knowledge IT security have examined this coding and found absolutely nothing to worry about and also acknowledge that it was designed from the very outset to be secure and maintain privacy. If you do as I suggested and look up how it is designed you will see that there is no way for any central body or agency to access the data or make much sense of it even if they did.

      1. Two decades ago, the US intelligence community worked closely with Silicon Valley in an effort to track citizens in cyberspace. And Google is at the heart of that origin story. Some of the research that led to Google’s ambitious creation was funded and coordinated by a research group established by the intelligence community to find ways to track individuals and groups online.

        The intelligence community hoped that the nation’s leading computer scientists could take non-classified information and user data, combine it with what would become known as the internet, and begin to create for-profit, commercial enterprises to suit the needs of both the intelligence community and the public. They hoped to direct the supercomputing revolution from the start in order to make sense of what millions of human beings did inside this digital information network. That collaboration has made a comprehensive public-private mass surveillance state possible today.

        The story of the deliberate creation of the modern mass-surveillance state includes elements of Google’s surprising, and largely unknown, origin. It is a somewhat different creation story than the one the public has heard, and explains what Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page set out to build, and why.

        But this isn’t just the origin story of Google: It’s the origin story of the mass-surveillance state, and the government money that funded it

      2. brianbotou – None of which alters anything I’ve said about this API.
        Listen to Dr Michael Veale UCL who wrote the code he was on Newsnight this evening. It is open source code so any naughtiness would have been exposed by now.

    2. Brian botou……I hope you realise that SH is being paid for this,and its propoganda to prop up the establishment and pretend that if youve nothing to hide …theirs no need to worry??…..Thank god someone realises that vigilance against the government and the OPPOSITION is needed to stop the establishment turning us all into serfdom

  9. look lets face it the Tories have never been serious about anything other than herd immunity (death programme) and any track/trace is a trivial distraction to them

    1. Unfortunately they’re also interested in selling off the NHS to US Medical health insurance companies. So glad Cummings’ mate NHSX app has had to be dropped! Listening to Dr Michael Veale last night on BBC Newsnight was like music to my ears. Kudos to him!👌 Hope the papers + media are all over it today.

  10. If Bubber is so concerned about Google, Apple et al spying on us why doesn’t he walk up and down with a placard outside GCHQ?
    After all, it was built specifically to spy on us all, it has no limits to its impunity and as far as I know doesn’t anonymise a damn thing – neither does it provide any services remotely useful to us as individuals, as Google and Apple unarguably do.

  11. “Civil-liberty advocacy groups have aired their privacy concerns for years, especially as they now relate to the Patriot Act. “Hastily passed 45 days after 9/11 in the name of national security, the Patriot Act was the first of many changes to surveillance laws that made it easier for the government to spy on ordinary Americans by expanding the authority to monitor phone and email communications, collect bank and credit reporting records, and track the activity of innocent Americans on the Internet,” says the ACLU. “While most Americans think it was created to catch terrorists, the Patriot Act actually turns regular citizens into suspects.”

    When asked, the biggest technology and communications companies—from Verizon and AT&T to Google, Facebook, and Microsoft—say that they never deliberately and proactively offer up their vast databases on their customers to federal security and law enforcement agencies: They say that they only respond to subpoenas or requests that are filed properly under the terms of the Patriot Act.

    But even a cursory glance through recent public records shows that there is a treadmill of constant requests that could undermine the intent behind this privacy promise. According to the data-request records that the companies make available to the public, in the most recent reporting period between 2016 and 2017, local, state and federal government authorities seeking information related to national security, counter-terrorism or criminal concerns issued more than 260,000 subpoenas, court orders, warrants, and other legal requests to Verizon, more than 250,000 such requests to AT&T, and nearly 24,000 subpoenas, search warrants, or court orders to Google. Direct national security or counter-terrorism requests are a small fraction of this overall group of requests, but the Patriot Act legal process has now become so routinized that the companies each have a group of employees who simply take care of the stream of requests.

    In this way, the collaboration between the intelligence community and big, commercial science and tech companies has been wildly successful. When national security agencies need to identify and track people and groups, they know where to turn – and do so frequently. That was the goal in the beginning. It has succeeded perhaps more than anyone could have imagined at the time.”

    Yes, the experts seem to have been working with these technology companies as well and under the 5 eyes agreement what the US knows about the U.K. the government here could know as well.

    1. brianbotou – I’m not disputing what you are saying about how bad the various government agencies are but none of it alters the facts that the apps based on this G/A API are designed to be secure and protect privacy. Apple and Google never see any of the data. All the data is stored anonymously on users phones, it doesn’t use GPS data and when an alert is triggered the notifications effectively go from the users phone to the affected contacts. There is no central database.

      It is however worth noting that Dr Veale from UCL who wrote the original API that Google and Apple adopted clearly stated that the changes that Matt Hancock wants Apple to make would allow 3rd parties to track users without their knowledge. Hence the reason Apple and Google have told the Tories they can go f’ themselves.

      1. It’s not a question of you disputing how bad the various agencies are, it’s the fact, and I stress fact, that they plus the various technology companies have collaborated either willingly or by legislation.

        I have also pointed out that under the 5 eyes security agreement between the US, the UK and other English speaking countries they share information concerning each other’s country. This also has been well documented.

        Now, the notion that an “ expert” can guarantee our data will not be made available to the various government security agencies when asked for has no past precedence. The idea that this “ expert” can absolutely guarantee that our data will remain totally in the private domain has no precedence from previous intrusions into private information as Edward Snowden revealed and Julian Assange is being persecuted for.

        Apple and Google will do whatever the US security services tells them to do.

      2. brianbotou – You are talking nonsense. The code for these Apps is open source, anyone can examine it, even you. There really is no hiding place. Come back when you’ve bothered to educate yourself a little on the subject, perhaps you’ll then have something sensible to contribute.

  12. SV. “ None of it alters what…” Really. Read the long passages I quoted from the source concerning the symbiotic relationship between the technology companies and the US security state and actually comprehend that the assurances given by them are not worth the paper it is written on. I seem to recall another “ expert “ Newsnight wheeled out to justify the “ pandemic “.

    1. brianbotou – My apologies you obviously don’t appreciate what ‘open source code’ is. It means that the code for these apps is free and open for anyone to access (even tin hat hackers) and therefore there is literally nowhere to hide anything. This code has been examined by thousands of experts and not one of them has found anything to be concerned about.

      1. “ This code has been examined by thousands of experts…”. Oh dear, the experts are multiplying faster than the “ pandemic “. “…not one of them has found anything to be concerned about”. How many times in the last 50 years or more has that line been spun by the “ experts”!

      2. brianbotou – Are you really trying to make a credible argument that all of the many, many ‘hackers’ out there who would just love to take down Google or Apple are all part of some bloody conspiracy. Why are you having so much difficulty with the concept that anyone can look at this code. There is no hiding place.

  13. SH. There is also nothing made by man that cannot be deciphered by man. There has been numerous past examples of this happening so the notion that “ experts” guarantee etc has as much validity as many of the other guarantees that have offered by them in the last 80 years or more. Now, if you want to swallow the naive notion that because the “ experts “ have said it is so then it must be written in tablets of stone feel free. Just don’t try and expect everyone else to be as naive as you !!!

    1. The code is out there for anyone and everyone to examine. There is a reason open source code is trusted.

      1. How many ” trusted ” codes been used in the past and how many have been found to be not trustworthy.

  14. TWO posts in the space of a minute. That must be a skwawkbox record! Well done Steve!! Not quite so quick off the mark this time getting the first post in though…….. six minutes this time (as of getting notification email from skwawk), as opposed to five minutes in the earlier thread. Perhaps you were having a P when it arrived in your inbox, or maybe making a cuppa T (or do you make yourself a flask in the morning so as to save being away from ur PC any more than you have to?). Still, six minutes isn’t bad – ie to read the article, then quickly figure out something short and sweet to post (something that’ll be popular and get you a few Likes hopefully, that is), quickly type it out (or do you have a secretary that does the typing?), and then post it.

    Yerse, that was about the length of time it used to take signpost (Cod bless his broken heart) to get the first comment posted generally speaking…… about five or six minutes (as of receiving the notification), and short and sweet of course so as to be sure to be the first comment posted, which is quite amazing really when you think about the gynormous long posts he usually posted.

    Anyway, I hate to ask again, but what was it about that passage in the Paul Waugh article (in the Huffpost) that you thought would be of interest to me, and which you said had been largely overlooked?

  15. Oh, right, and I assume my above comment will be there in your inbox in the morning and you’ll see it first thing and you’ll find the time to respond to my question(s) about the Paul Waugh article before you start work. Cheers

    PS THAT’s assuming ur not still up and about, which if I’m honest, wouldn’t surprise me at ALL!

  16. I hate to say this sqwawky but sometimes your headlines are just too long and need me to read a few times before they make sense…otherwise, still enjoy your articles!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: