Tag Archives: HSE

Part of The Report Card for the HSE/Department of Health Covid tracker app includes reference to Google Firebase and Twillo possibly obtaining patient data

This morning/afternoon.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) have issued a report card evaluating the HSE/Department of Health Covid-19 tracker app prior to its launch.

How did it do?

Regarding the app’s efficacy, experts have given the app a D.

Dr Stephen Farrell, Research Fellow, School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin (speaking in a personal capacity, said:

“We have no clear evidence before us that the app accurately detects close contacts to Covid-19. In the alternative, our independent research shows that app signalling accuracy varies substantially depending on user environments.”

Regarding the app’s clear and limited purpose, experts have given the app a D.

ICCL’s Information Rights Director Elizabeth Farries said:

“European data protection guidance says Covid-19 apps must pursue a single purpose of contact tracing to alert people potentially exposed to Covid-19. Unfortunately, location data and symptom tracking extend beyond this single purpose.”

Regarding the app’s statutory oversight, experts have given the app a C.

Digital Rights Ireland Director Antóin Ó Lachtnáin said:

“We would question the legal basis of consent the government appears to be relying on under the GDPR. Furthermore, long term, we are very concerned that Google/Apple will have ultimate control over most of the EU’s Covid-19 app ecosystem, and not our governments.”

We’re not angry.

Just disappointed.


Full report card here.

Experts Issue Pre-Release Report Card on the HSE Covid-19 Tracker App (ICCL)



Department of Health, Baggott Street, Dublin 2.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett (middle pic centre) joined protesters from the Campaign for an All- Ireland National Health Service (CAINHS) which was launched last month and who held a National Day of Action yesterday.

Yesterday: The Cost Of Going Private

Leah Farrell/RollingNews


Terry Pattinson writes:

I was tested for Coronavirus in Dun Laoghaire [County Dublin]on Friday, May 15 and this leaflet (above) was handed to me. It recommends (twice!) keeping a distance of 1 metre (3 feet) from other people.

It amazes me that there has been no comment on the fact that the HSE has already printed and is distributing advice leaflets which state: ‘Keeping a distance of more than 1 metre (3 feet) from other people is recommended.’


Ministers to question Chief Medical Officer over two metre social distancing rule (RTÉ)

Paul Reid, HSE CEO this morning

This morning.

O’Brien Centre for Science, UCD, Dublin 4.

Via Irish Times:

“We need to improve where we’ve been at,” he {Paul Reid, CEO HSE][ said, while defending progress made to date. “We have faced very significant backlogs which resulted in a very poor experience for many people,” he said, adding the HSE had been “rightly judged and held to account”.

…His comments come amid scrutiny of the State’s contact tracing and testing process, seen as a key element of relaxing restrictions on movement and other measures over the summer.

Experts have said current timelines are too slow relative to where they should be to help ensure the disease is kept under control as lockdown measures are relaxed.,,,

Coronavirus: HSE says new three-day target for testing and tracing to be introduced (Irish Times)


That’ll learn him.


From top: Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan at a Covid-19 press briefing on April 7; New graph of daily deaths ‘related to Covid-19’

This morning/afternoon.

A new graph produced by Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan suggests that daily deaths associated with Covid-19 may have peaked in Ireland on Tuesday, April 7.

RTÉ’s George Lee reports:

This new analysis paints a very different picture to that suggested by the figures published to date.

It shows that daily deaths actually peaked ten days ago on 7 April at 39 deaths, although the reported total that day was 36.

It also reveals that broadly for three weeks before 10 April, the daily reported death toll under-represented the reality of how many people really died each day. But in the past week, the daily reported total has been over-representing the actual number of deaths that occurred – some days by quite a lot.

The number of deaths officially reported for Friday 17 April is 44, the highest yet. But in reality, only 20 of those deaths actually occurred on Friday. The rest could properly have been allocated to earlier dates.

The graph showed that in reality the number of daily deaths from Covid-19 in Ireland has halved since peaking ten days ago.


…on April 7.

Paul Cullen, in The Irish Times, reported that, according to modelling data in the US, Ireland had passed its peak of Covid-19 infections.

Mr Cullen reported:

“Peak resource use of hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) beds here passed on April 4th, while peak deaths passed on April 6th, according to the data published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which is based at the University of Washington in the US.”

Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan was asked about this study at the Department of Health’s nightly press briefing and rejected it, saying:

“It simply isn’t true. It’s not reliable…that’s not something that people should either listen to or rely upon”


At the April 7 press briefing were, from left: chair of Covid-19 advisory group Dr Cillian De Gascun; Chief Clinical Officer HSE Dr Colm Henry; Chief Medical Officer Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Department of Health Dr Ronan Glynn

…during the same press conference (go to 27.19), Mr Cullen and Dr Holohan had this exchange about Covid-19 and its “peak” in Ireland.

Paul Cullen: “I hear your criticisms of that US modelling but at least they did produce a model. Nature abhors a vacuum. You’ve waited a long time to come out with the results of your own model. We did have a leaked number at the very start, of the number of people who might get the disease [15,000 by the end of March] at the very start of this crisis. We haven’t heard anything yet.

“So, I mean these exercises have their limitations but people are looking for a route map?”

Tony Holohan: “Sure, so just a couple of things on that. So the figure that was mentioned at the beginning wasn’t so much a leak as a projection that we would be at, which was correct, if we continued to grow at 33%, from the number of cases that we had at the point in time that number was identified. We would have gotten to 15,000 by the end of the month.

“The reason we didn’t get there was because we managed to flatten the curve as a society and we did that through the various measures that were introduced and what we were clear about was that with the modelling work that we’re doing, and it’s being led as Dr Glynn has said, by Philip Nolan and a team of 50 mathematicians across the academic and university sector, it’s a huge enterprise of activity.

“And the reason we haven’t given a forward projection from that is because we don’t believe that we’ve seen the point, and I said this clearly last week on a couple of occasions, the stability, if you like, in the model, to allow us to project forward. In other words, we’re continuing to see improvement in the reduction in the growth of this epidemic.

“So at the beginning, that figure of 15,000 came off a projected growth, day-on-day, of 33%. And that has been reduced steadily and it’s, we believe, still continuing to fall.

“And the further it falls, the further into the future will come the point of peak and the lower that peak will be.

“And we want to reduce that as much as we possibly can. And we think that it will take, you know, at least, tomorrow, and the next…in other words, the further we go into this week, to give that projection, the more stable and certain that projection is.

“And that’s the reason that we could have given you a forward projection two or three weeks ago. But the confidence limits of that, in other words, the variation, or the margin of error, as you might call it, would have been so great as to make that uninterpretable or useless information for the point of view of our action. And that’s why I think, correctly, we’ve waited until we had a good model, which we believe that we have.

“And an ability to see the full effect of the measures that are in place which is at least ten days post the last set of measures being put in place to start to make any forward projections which we will give you on Thursday of this week.”

Meanwhile, separately…

Also on April 7, the Minister for Health Simon Harris signed the regulations which gave gardaí the power to enforce Covid-19 restrictions.

New graph shows deaths from Covid-19 peaked 10 days ago (RTÉ)


HSE logo; excerpt from letter that the HSE has sent Digital Rights Ireland; tweet from DRI

In the past hour.

The Irish Times has reported that Digital Rights Ireland has received a response from the HSE, following on from the DRI writing to the HSE about its planned contact-tracing app.

The DRI wrote about the HSE’s “heavy obligation” in relation to the app’s privacy and data protection and asked for any documentation pertaining to the app’s Data Protection Impact Assessment to be forwarded to the DRI. The DRI also offered to assist the HSE.

In its response, the HSE said it will publish the app’s Data Protection Impact Assessment when the app is launched.

Jack Horgan-Jones reports:

Antoin O Lachtain, a spokesman for Digital Rights Ireland, told The Irish Times that according to information given to the group by the HSE, “they are planning to build a ‘super-app’ which will be much more comprehensive thant the contact tracing app which was originally discussed”.

…It will also delete all identifiable data from the app once the pandemic is over, the HSE said in its letter. “We are very keen to ensure that the potentially lifesaving app has public support and would welcome your positive input once we publish the relevant documentation and the app,” the HSE wrote in its letter.

Coronavirus: Privacy advocates say HSE planning a ‘super app’ (The Irish Times)

Meanwhile, on Tuesday…

Broadsheet sent a number of questions to the HSE about the Covid-19 contact-tracing app referred to above and HSE Covid-19 Patient Management app, advertised on the Apple Store.

At 4.18pm today, the HSE responded as follows:

As part of the national response to Covid-19, work is underway to develop a new national mobile app for Ireland that will allow citizens to track their symptoms in real-time, and to digitally trace close contacts.

This will assist in national contact tracing efforts in the weeks and months ahead, as we move forward from the containment and mitigation phases of the public health response to Covid-19. The HSE is carrying out final security and product testing of the CovidTracker Ireland App.

The mobile app is being designed as a key element of the next phase of Irish national public health response. The power of the app lies in its capacity to provide early insight into the spread of Covid-19 and in its ability to enable the health services speed up and improve contact tracing.

The CovidTracker Ireland App will:

• help the health service with its efforts in Contact Tracing for people who are confirmed cases

• allow a user to record how well they are feeling, or track their symptoms every day

• provide links to advice if the user has symptoms or is feeling unwell

• give the user up-to-date information about the virus in Ireland

The Irish app will be designed in a way that maximises privacy as well as maximising value for public health. Privacy-by-design is a core principle underpinning the design of the CovidTracker Ireland App – which will operate on a voluntary and fully opt-in basis. The objective is to put in place a single official national Covid-19 mobile phone App for the population.

The CovidTracker Ireland App will be a vital part of our collective efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19, support our goal to flatten the curve, and hasten the easing of restrictions across the country.

Intensive work is underway in the Health Service Executive and across the Department of Health with direct support from the Office of Government Chief Information Officer and other technical expertise across the public service.

The implementation timeline will be determined by the technical progress and the results from the security and product testing that is underway. When it is ready the Department of Health and the HSE will formally launch the app with clear instructions on how to download and use it.

The questions were:

1. Has the HSE responded to Digital Rights Ireland’s recent letter to HSE CEO Paul Reid about its concerns related to the app/s? What is the HSE’s response? Has the HSE taken up DRI’s offer to help?

2. When will the contract tracing app be rolled out? Has the HSE Covid-19 app been officially launched?

3. What is the purpose of the HSE Covid-19 app which appears to ask for symptoms and users’ location? Does the HSE have any more proposed apps related to Covid-19 in the pipeline?

4. What specific data will be gathered from this app/these apps? How exactly will they work?

5. How will the data be stored?

6. Will there be a time-limit on how long the data will be stored?

7. Will the data be shared with anyone else, any other organisation or any other Government department or agency such as An Garda Síochána?

8. Who would be the controllers and processors of the data collected by this app/these apps?

9. We understand that the HSE has been in contact with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner about the contract tracing app. Could the HSE outline the extent of these communications? Did the HSE liaise with the DPC in relation to the HSE Covid-19 app? Did the HSE liaise with any other privacy experts/advocates about the tracing app or any other apps?

10. What evidence does the HSE have that such apps contribute to limiting the spread of Covid-19?

11. How will the HSE ensure the app/apps are proportionate, necessary and in line with GDPR rules?

12. Did the HSE carry out a Data Protection Impact Assessment in respect of the app/s and will this/these be published?

Previously: Track And Trace

Dear Mr Reid…

CEO of the HSE Paul Reid, letter from Digital Rights Ireland to the HSE


Further to a report in the Business Post by Susan Mitchell and Aaron Rogan on March 29 last that the HSE will be rolling out an opt-in “mobile phone tracking and tracing app” that will allow people to be notified if they were in close proximity to people who tested positive for Covid-19…

Digital Rights Ireland has written to the head of the HSE Paul Reid (above) asking to discuss the HSE’s plans for this app “and other digital initiatives” over a videoconference call.

It’s been previously reported that the HSE has been in contact with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner about the track and trace app.

However, details of the app are not clear in terms of what information will be used, how and where this information will be stored and with whom it will be shared. It’s also not clear if the roll-out of the app will be subject to a time limit.

In its letter, Digital Rights Ireland, who successfully argued in the European Court of Justice in 2014 that laws requiring ISPs and mobile phone companies to log details of a phone user’s location, their texts, emails, internet use, and to store that information for up to two years, was a breach of privacy,  also asked for Mr Reid to provide it with the app’s Data Protection Impact Assessment.

It’s also not clear if such an assessment has been carried out.

Meanwhile, last night…

Phone tracking app set to be used as next step to fight Covid-19 (Susan Mitchell, Aaron Rogan, Business Post)

Previously: Track And Trace

G’Wan De Digital Rights