Since pubs, bars, restaurants and other establishments reopened just over a week ago, the government has been asking them to collect information about all customers who pass through their doors.
According to government guidelines, this information should include the name of the customer, the customer’s phone number, the date and arrival time of their visit, and if possible, their departure time as well.
Collecting this information is voluntary at the moment, but the government wants establishments to follow the guidelines in order to support the NHS Test and Trace system.
“By maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors, and sharing these with NHS Test and Trace where requested, you can help us to identify people who may have been exposed to the virus,” the government says.
It’s an initiative which makes a lot of sense in theory, but in practice, it appears already to have been abused. Rose Lyddon, a medieval history graduate student at Oxford, shared on Twitter yesterday that a bartender had messaged her on Facebook after giving her a free drink at the pub.
Lyddon shared a screenshot of the bartender’s message, in which he insisted that he “definitely didn’t use that track and trace thing to find you”.
“Honestly I saw you on Tinder the day before and then the day after you came up as a suggested friend on Facebook. Have no clue how or why…” he added, after apologising for sending her an unsolicited message.
I went to the pub the other day (it was empty and I sat outside) and got a free drink from the bartender and… he’s just messaged me on facebook pic.twitter.com/lwRBZJANsf
— rose 🦇 (@roselyddon) July 11, 2020
Lyddon’s tweet has now been liked more than 13,000 times. In a follow-up tweet, she said “the Tinder thing can’t be true because I haven’t used it for two years” and added, understandably, that she’s “not super keen on handing over my name, email and phone number for contact tracing if men are going to use it for this”.
As one of her Twitter followers pointed out, any establishment which uses information collected for NHS Test and Trace for any other purpose has breached GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and can be reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
“I think you could report the pub to the information commissioner. This is defo a databreach and they need to deal with it. Sorry. Very creepy,” one of Lyddon’s followers wrote.
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