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Matt Hancock MP launches own app that makes a mockery of privacy

APRIL FOOL’S ISN’T HERE YET, but nevertheless culture secretary Matt Hancock has launched his own app and social network called, er, Matt Hancock MP.

The app opens with a cheerful video message, with the West Suffolk MP introducing himself and explaining why the app, published by Disciple Media, exists in the first place.

“It’s a chance to find out what’s going on both in my role as MP for West Suffolk and as culture secretary, and most importantly it’s a chance for you to tell me what you think, and to engage with others on issues that matter to you,” he spouts.

The Android and iOS app – it doesn’t seem to be available to the iPad, unless our iPad Mini 2 has a chronic incompatibility with Tory MPs – allows for users to chat with Hancock and sign up friends to the network.

Now, if we know anything about the internet, we suspect Hancock could find himself facing a deluge of dodgy messages, ranging from inane questions to the rants of Brexiteers.

But there’s a bigger sting in the app’s tail that appears to have gone unnoticed by Hancock. The iOS app can gain access to a user’s photo library even if they decline to let it do so through a pop-up prompt.

This flies in the face of privacy missives Hancock has touted in his role as minister for the government’s digital policy.

The app’s privacy policy also contains some rather choice words and phrasing that could see a host of user data get sucked up, going as far as scraping up financial information.

Perhaps Hancock has really created a 1984 style monitoring app masquerading as a happy-go-lucky bit of social software.

Automatic data harvesting in the app includes the hoovering up of contacts and check-ins, and that data can be processed and shared with third-parties. All rather privacy sapping stuff if you ask us.

There’s no response from Hancock or his offices on the privacy issues reported with the app so far.

The app also raises questions as to which MP will follow suit. Maybe we can expect a David Davis Brexit Singles app to connect lonely EU leavers. Or Teresa May Tinder, where all matches mean matches.

Perhaps Boris Johnson will knock out a cycling app for foppish fitness fans, or London Mayor Sadiq Khan will have a bus driver tracking app.

Maybe Jeremy Hut will set up a crypto mining app to generate funds for the struggling NHS, or Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn will launch an app that finds free seats on trains.

Hell, there’s a metric tonne of APIs and developer tools out there so MPs can have at it. Just be ready for serious scrutiny from Apple. µ

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