Anti-lockdown activists and Covid conspiracy theorists have developed a fake NHS mobile app that allows users to evade contact tracers – just a week after the government service went live.
A VICE News investigation has found an app named “Covid 1984” allows users to enter pubs and restaurants without scanning a QR code or providing contact information.
Users can type in the name of a venue to generate a false check-in page, which can be used to gain entry without following the nationwide protocol.
It was circulated around several Telegram channels by activists, with messages such as “a little present for you and your friends” and:
“Fake track and trace, as London was a nightmare to get into places and we was refused entry in nearly all places without abiding to track and trace, which im sure left us all with no entry at all…if you click the link before entering it will show that you have checked in on your screen. It will always change date times for you. Enjoy.”
The app creator Louisa Haywood-Samuel, who was tracked down by VICE, said she created it because of concerns about flaws in the UK’s COVID-19 testing regime that could see people incorrectly identified as being infectious.
“Obviously people don’t want to use an app that is going to tell them to quarantine under the threat of a £10,000 fine, on the basis of these highly inaccurate tests,” she said. “They want to give their details manually.”
In response to this report, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said: “This is an irresponsible and pointless attempt to subvert a public health tool designed to keep people safe and uphold data privacy.
“The NHS COVID-19 app is designed to protect you and your loved ones, and the check-in feature means that users can be sent notifications with public health advice if needed. Information is held securely on the user’s phone.”
Read the investigation in full here.