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Vaccine Passports under England 'Plan B'

MikeWM

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Oh look, apparently the app isn't currently working

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...ine-status-malfunctions-causing-travel-delays
The NHS app that lets people prove their vaccine status is not working for some users, a problem that could cause havoc for those trying to use it for travel.

An error message when people try to access their Covid pass says: “Please try again later.”

Yeah, let's make it so that living our daily lives requires having 'papers' - that even if you satisfy the conditions for them, and are willing to show them, may well not even work. Great idea.
 
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Class800

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I've always been quite a 'grassroots' person, but these sorts of schemes make me more supportive of local small venues be that sporting or artistic, provided they remain liberal. There are plenty that are, if some are not.
 

NorthKent1989

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87electric

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The whole fantasy of rolling out a foolproof digital controlled life at this moment in time, is just that, fantasy. Maybe in 50 years it might bear some success. 5g would be so old hat by then.
 

Bantamzen

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Well it seems that the NHS England app fell over today for several hours, stranding international passengers relying on it to pass through customs, as well as anyone wanting to access businesses insisting on seeing them. Apparently demand was too high for the system, not exactly encouraging if they plan to bring it into wider use.

"Sorry sir / madam, we know the NHS have screwed up capacity but regardless we can't let you in, or give you a refund for your gig / show / match / flight..."
 

Silver Cobra

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Well it seems that the NHS England app fell over today for several hours, stranding international passengers relying on it to pass through customs, as well as anyone wanting to access businesses insisting on seeing them. Apparently demand was too high for the system, not exactly encouraging if they plan to bring it into wider use.

"Sorry sir / madam, we know the NHS have screwed up capacity but regardless we can't let you in, or give you a refund for your gig / show / match / flight..."

This is why I requested a paper copy of my vaccination pass today, in preparation for an event I'm attending at the ExCeL on the 23rd (it's a shame the event organisers are still insisting on this despite it not being legally required, but hey ho). If the app is having problems working now, I can imagine it completely collapsing on that day when thousands of people in the same small area try to access it at the same time.
 

AlterEgo

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Well it seems that the NHS England app fell over today for several hours, stranding international passengers relying on it to pass through customs, as well as anyone wanting to access businesses insisting on seeing them. Apparently demand was too high for the system, not exactly encouraging if they plan to bring it into wider use.

"Sorry sir / madam, we know the NHS have screwed up capacity but regardless we can't let you in, or give you a refund for your gig / show / match / flight..."
What a complete joke NHS IT is.

Btw, as a workaround, you can download your pass to Apple Wallet which is valid for a few weeks at a time. If you're crossing borders I would always recommend taking paper copies of everything.
 

headshot119

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Sorry I must have accidentally clicked on this thread while typing my post. I have requested that this is moved to “Extension of Bedwyn Stoppers to Westbury” in Speculative ideas.

If you post incorrectly please press the "Report" button on the post to bring it to a moderators attention.
 

Ediswan

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Btw, as a workaround, you can download your pass to Apple Wallet which is valid for a few weeks at a time. If you're crossing borders I would always recommend taking paper copies of everything.
That is part of the system, not a workaround. I don't understand why some people choose to rely on a system that requires network connectivity and a working online service when there is an offline option available. As you reommend, paper also removes the 'flat battery' risk.
 

Cdd89

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I don't see why the app can't automatically cache the most recent certificate (once viewed) and have it available for viewing offline, if within the expiration date, if there is no network connectivity. Yes, people can do this manually, but it's entirely predictable that people who assumed services would be available would find themselves caught out! Most other countries' apps have certificates in an offline form.
 

Bantamzen

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This is why I requested a paper copy of my vaccination pass today, in preparation for an event I'm attending at the ExCeL on the 23rd (it's a shame the event organisers are still insisting on this despite it not being legally required, but hey ho). If the app is having problems working now, I can imagine it completely collapsing on that day when thousands of people in the same small area try to access it at the same time.
I did the same when we went to Spain last month. I had paper backups & downloaded copies on a tablet.

What a complete joke NHS IT is.
Welcome to the world of gov.uk IT..... (said in a dramatic, 1950s 'B' narrator voice)

Btw, as a workaround, you can download your pass to Apple Wallet which is valid for a few weeks at a time. If you're crossing borders I would always recommend taking paper copies of everything.
Not much use for all the Android users out there though! ;)

Seriously though, this outage does highlight one of the big problems with any such scheme. Sure you can download / print such papers, but invariably people forget them or the static certs run out & need updating. So if for example you woke up one morning and thought, "I fancy going to the game" and so buy a ticket online but forget that the gestapo, erm I mean authorities require your papers to gain access to the ground until you get there. No problem right? Just log on and get your QR code.....

<Network failure>

Oh!

And aside from the obvious moral issues with these things, there are other potential problems lurking beneath when you start to really think about the application. For example, what happens at sports grounds where crowds usually hover around 8-9K, but on one day another couple of thousand decide to turn up on the day? Do you only check then 10,000th person onwards, do you insist that 8K crowds prove their cleanliness "just in case", do you employ the services of a fortune teller to predict the crows for the day? Its a bit of an outlier scenario I admit, but when you start to drill into the logistical application of these you start to dig up problems, especially where arbitrary and unexplained limits are set.
 

DelayRepay

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Seriously though, this outage does highlight one of the big problems with any such scheme. Sure you can download / print such papers, but invariably people forget them or the static certs run out & need updating.

Not everyone can download and print. For years, I've not had a printer at home. The very occasional times I've needed to print something, I've done it at work. Now I don't go into work very often so although I am tech savy and have a smart phone, I wouldn't easily be able to fall back on printed copies. Lots of people don't have printers these days. Or have a printer but no ink, or have a printer that doesn't work any more...

I guess I could ring 119 for a printed copy, then ring them back every few weeks for it to be re-issued before the previous one expires.

Perhaps we should all do that? Wonder how long it would be before that system fell over too?

I was at an event at the weekend where they were checking covid passes. It took about three times longer than usual to get in because people were having to switch between their e-ticket and the NHS app, and by the time they'd switched to the NHS app, it had timed out so they had to log in again. Then there were all the people who'd not got the app, brought the wrong documents, were from abroad (including, in this context, Scotland!) etc which all just caused more delays at the entrance.
 

Bantamzen

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Not everyone can download and print. For years, I've not had a printer at home. The very occasional times I've needed to print something, I've done it at work. Now I don't go into work very often so although I am tech savy and have a smart phone, I wouldn't easily be able to fall back on printed copies. Lots of people don't have printers these days. Or have a printer but no ink, or have a printer that doesn't work any more...

I guess I could ring 119 for a printed copy, then ring them back every few weeks for it to be re-issued before the previous one expires.

Perhaps we should all do that? Wonder how long it would be before that system fell over too?

I was at an event at the weekend where they were checking covid passes. It took about three times longer than usual to get in because people were having to switch between their e-ticket and the NHS app, and by the time they'd switched to the NHS app, it had timed out so they had to log in again. Then there were all the people who'd not got the app, brought the wrong documents, were from abroad (including, in this context, Scotland!) etc which all just caused more delays at the entrance.
Sounds about right to be honest, its such a poorly thought out process with little or no joint-up thinking. But I'm not surprised in the least, we can only hope that the poor execution will rattle enough cages for it to be quietly shelved in a very dark corner of Whitehall, never to be seen again.
 

MikeWM

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Here's some delightful evidence that vaccine passports are about as useful as masks.

Lithuania currently has an incredibly strict vaccine passport regime, with them required to do pretty much anything (you can see a twitter thread about just how awful it is here - can't work, can't go to a supermarket, etc. And an article setting out similar information here).

Which would be terrible if they actually worked to stop the spread of a disease. But they don't even do that!

1634220892288.png
(graph from the excellent @ianMSC on twitter)
 

Bantamzen

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Here's some delightful evidence that vaccine passports are about as useful as masks.

Lithuania currently has an incredibly strict vaccine passport regime, with them required to do pretty much anything (you can see a twitter thread about just how awful it is here - can't work, can't go to a supermarket, etc. And an article setting out similar information here).

Which would be terrible if they actually worked to stop the spread of a disease. But they don't even do that!

View attachment 104009
(graph from the excellent @ianMSC on twitter)
That Tweet is heart-breaking, and should act as a warning to all those people cheering on vaccine passports. But it won't, so long as they see that their lives live within the rules then so shall they obey. But once the rules cross their boundaries, then they will protest. But by then it will be too late.
 

nickw1

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One other interesting story from the last few days, which you may want to bear in mind before using the 'NHS App', whether as a vaccine passport or not. I most certainly will not be doing so.

https://www.theguardian.com/society...-companies-analysing-facial-data-from-nhs-app

Sorry I have only just seen this.

What I don't understand is why, with so much emphasis on privacy and legislation such as the GDPR, tougher action is not taken against this sort of 'creepy' stuff. Misuse of data in this way needs to be cracked down on - and hard. It's sadly often the case that tough action is taken against individuals who unwittingly leave a USB stick on a train, but deliberate, planned misuse of personal data by large corporations is not only permitted but seemingly encouraged by the government. The NHS app is supposed to be something allowing you to show vaccine status. Morally, it should not and must not be misused by its creators for any other purpose.

I'm obviously aware that this is a widespread problem across 'big data' corporations, with many well-publicised cases - but it needs to be cracked down on. Governments seem to have no interest in tougher legislation for the data industry.


I don't see why the app can't automatically cache the most recent certificate (once viewed) and have it available for viewing offline, if within the expiration date, if there is no network connectivity. Yes, people can do this manually, but it's entirely predictable that people who assumed services would be available would find themselves caught out! Most other countries' apps have certificates in an offline form.

I had problems at an overseas airport recently with the app not working. Strangely, other internet did. Thankfully the police at the overseas airport trusted me, presumably assuming (correctly) that they checked at the UK end.

As a result of the bad outward experience (including at the UK airport) I printed everything out on the way back.
 
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WelshBluebird

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What I don't understand is why, with so much emphasis on privacy and legislation such as the GDPR, tougher action is not taken against this sort of 'creepy' stuff. Misuse of data in this way needs to be cracked down on - and hard. It's sadly often the case that tough action is taken against individuals who unwittingly leave a USB stick on a train, but deliberate, planned misuse of personal data by large corporations is not only permitted but seemingly encouraged by the government. The NHS app is supposed to be something allowing you to show vaccine status. Morally, it should not and must not be misused by its creators for any other purpose.
I think it is important to actually understand what the data is being used for. It isn't for "creepy" reasons and isn't misuse of personal data. The reason facial data is used is cross referencing people's ID's with a photo / video they have taken of themselves to make sure the person in the photo / video is the same person the ID is of. That is the analysis being done here. If anything I'd say it is a good thing that personal data is being treated in a way that means you actually have to prove who you are before you can access your NHS records via the app. Much more secure than just asking someone for their NHS number, name and DOB (which anyone could know!). Yes, there are some serious issues with some tech companies and their use of personal data but people seem to be almost too willing to ignore the fact that quite often this data is actually used for a real useful purpose and it isn't anything malicious.

Now should the government and the app be more upfront about what data is being used, why and by who? Yes. Should there be more transparency about data use in general? Yes. But to simply claim that this is "creepy" and the like just is getting yourself into a frenzy about a non story. It is worth knowing that banks like Monzo and Starling use very similar technology and processes to confirm you are who you claim you are when setting up new accounts, so it isn't like this is new or different to what other organisations do either. And if you don't like it there's always the choice not to take part (and for COVID pass stuff, get a paper copy).
 

AlterEgo

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That is part of the system, not a workaround. I don't understand why some people choose to rely on a system that requires network connectivity and a working online service when there is an offline option available. As you reommend, paper also removes the 'flat battery' risk.
There is also the bizarre situation whereby some border officers (thinking of some non-EU countries here!) feel more comfortable with things on paper. This is despite, with the pass, the paper copy being far easier to forge than showing a pass natively in the app.
 

bramling

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That Tweet is heart-breaking, and should act as a warning to all those people cheering on vaccine passports. But it won't, so long as they see that their lives live within the rules then so shall they obey. But once the rules cross their boundaries, then they will protest. But by then it will be too late.

People seem to like the idea of vaccine passports, unfortunately. No doubt because it pigeon-holes others as "dirty", and by excluding these "dirty" people from a place it allows themselves to feel "clean", which no doubt acts as a comfort blanket. Same with masks.
 

nickw1

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I think it is important to actually understand what the data is being used for. It isn't for "creepy" reasons and isn't misuse of personal data. The reason facial data is used is cross referencing people's ID's with a photo / video they have taken of themselves to make sure the person in the photo / video is the same person the ID is of. That is the analysis being done here. If anything I'd say it is a good thing that personal data is being treated in a way that means you actually have to prove who you are before you can access your NHS records via the app. Much more secure than just asking someone for their NHS number, name and DOB (which anyone could know!). Yes, there are some serious issues with some tech companies and their use of personal data but people seem to be almost too willing to ignore the fact that quite often this data is actually used for a real useful purpose and it isn't anything malicious.

Now should the government and the app be more upfront about what data is being used, why and by who? Yes. Should there be more transparency about data use in general? Yes. But to simply claim that this is "creepy" and the like just is getting yourself into a frenzy about a non story. It is worth knowing that banks like Monzo and Starling use very similar technology and processes to confirm you are who you claim you are when setting up new accounts, so it isn't like this is new or different to what other organisations do either. And if you don't like it there's always the choice not to take part (and for COVID pass stuff, get a paper copy).

What alarmed me about the story from my reading of it was 'undisclosed' companies, and what appeared to be some element of secrecy. If the data is only being used for ID purposes within the app that is fine, but this needs to be made crystal clear and the government need to be more upfront about the companies that are receiving this data.
 

island

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I don't see why the app can't automatically cache the most recent certificate (once viewed) and have it available for viewing offline, if within the expiration date, if there is no network connectivity. Yes, people can do this manually, but it's entirely predictable that people who assumed services would be available would find themselves caught out! Most other countries' apps have certificates in an offline form.
Indeed. This function exists on the Irish, French, German, and Dutch (at least) implementations of the app.
 

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