Vax Pass App is Sharing User Facial Recognition Data With Police
The National Health Service (NHS) has admitted that it is sharing facial recognition with police from the NHS app, which is now being used as the UK’s vaccine passport.
An estimated 16 million people have installed the NHS app, which can be used to book GP doctor visits as well as “NHS Covid Pass” proof of vaccination status in order to travel, and even as a domestic vaccine pass if businesses or events require it.
While it is possible to use separate means of identification to verify the app, the software uses facial recognition as the standard developed by the company iProov, which according to a report in The Guardian, is linked to Conservative Party donors.
The app records a video and then sends it to iProov to compare the user’s face against government ID photos in order to prove they are indeed who they say they are. The smartphone app also records information such as date of birth, postcode, phone number, and either a photo of a passport or driving licence.
The National Health Service and iProov have claimed that the data collected is anonymised and put under strict privacy protocols, however, an NHS spokesman admitted to the paper that facial recognition and other data is shared with law enforcement agencies, with the caveat that a special panel reviewed such decisions.
An expert in surveillance law warned that domestic and foreign spying agencies will likely try to obtain such data, saying: “If GCHQ acquired it and it was of use, the likely position is that they would share that with the [US] National Security Agency.”
It is the case that the United Kingdom and United States are bound together in an intelligence sharing alliance — alongside Canada, Australia, and New Zealand — where all intelligence is freely distributed between the partners without restriction, making the cross-border flow of these facial recognition videos basically inevitable once they reached the hands of the security services.
The NHS claimed that the data collected is “not stored for longer than is necessary under the contract,” however, iProov does not disclose how long it stores data.
The company is reportedly linked with major Tory Party donors through its connections with the private equity firm JRJ, which has a seat on the board of iProov.
Two out of the three partners of JRJ, Roger Nagioff and former Lehman Brothers executive Jeremy Isaacs have collectively donated over £1 million to the Conservative Party. However, it is not believed that JRJ had any involvement in the 2019 contract for the NHS app.