Outsourcing company Serco accidentally shared the email addresses of almost 300 contact tracers, who had signed up to the UK government’s coronavirus “test, track and trace” strategy, with the incident occurring when the company was contacting new recruits about the details of their training.
The UK Government has been urged to launch a thorough investigation after the email addresses of a total of 296 new recruits to its COVID-19 contact-tracing programme were shared due to an error.
Labour shadow cabinet office minister Rachel Reeves has written a letter to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, demanding swift action to restore public confidence following the incident.
“To ease the lockdown restrictions, a proper system of test, trace and isolate needs to be in place. The Government needs to make sure it is and that the public have faith in it. It has never been clear what expertise or specialist knowledge Serco can bring to contact tracing,” said Reeves.
Questioning how the outsourcing company had come to be awarded the contract in the first place, Reeves continues:
“It now appears that they are struggling to implement even basic aspects of data privacy. We need some clarity from the Government about why and how Serco came to be awarded this contract and we need reassurances that the contract tracing programme is in safe hands. The Prime Minister has promised it will be up and running by June 1, if we are to ease lockdown safely then it is essential that the Government gets this right.”
Serco Apologises, Vows ‘Review’
Earlier, Serco, an outsourcing company that specialises in public sector work, apologised and pledged to “review its processes” after accidentally sharing almost 300 email addresses of new contact tracers recruited to help the government’s COVID-19 “test, track and trace” strategy, the BBC reported.
The error occurred when the company emailed new trainees to share details about the training. People had signed up to support efforts to track and trace cases of coronavirus respiratory infection to help reduce the spread of the disease in the UK.
A total of 296 addresses were included in a CC (carbon copy) section of the email, rendering them visible to recipients, rather than BCC (blind carbon copy).
Serco vowed measures «to make sure that this does not happen again».
Britain’s government has started implementing a system already being used in countries such as Germany, Singapore, and South Korea, hiring 21,000 contact tracers who would aid efforts to identify people who have been in recent contact with someone displaying coronavirus symptoms.