I was followed three times in five days by men I didn’t know. During a pandemic – at any time, really – you would think they would have something better to do. They made gestures, shouted, catcalled, but I managed to lose them each time, partially because they had none of my details. They didn’t know my name, my number or my address.
But what if they did know that information? What if they had been working at a bar I had gone to with friends and given my contact details over, for test and trace.
That was the experience of one young woman this week. Shortly after she went to the pub, she received a message online by the bartender serving her. Asking her out for a drink, he added ‘I’m really sorry for messaging … I definitely didn’t use that track and trace thing to find you.’ Clearly not that sorry, otherwise he wouldn’t have messaged at all.
The Information Commissioner’s Office have said that you cannot use the personal information collected for contact tracing for any other purposes, but it looks like some people are not listening to that.
I hadn’t thought too much about privacy concerns around test and trace. In my head it was a distant problem to come with the app – if someone were looking at my data it would be for the right reasons, plus I don’t think I have anything that interesting to discover. If access to my contacts, location or search history could help save lives, I didn’t mind that much.
But while we wait for the app to be developed and we use an approach where pubs are asked to gather personal details, but are not storing them securely, this young woman’s experience could become the norm.