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Covid-19 alert app: Here's why SA government isn't using the app to 'spy' on you

18 September 2020 11:59 AM
Tags:
Covid-19 alert app
Covid-19 app
Covid-19 notification app

The Covid-19 app is not a contact tracing app. It's a notification system and there's no way for it to be used for clandestine purposes, experts explain.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged citizens to download South Africa's Covid-19 alert app.

However, a number of people of social media have raised concerns about data protection and the possible misuse of the app.

Tech journalist Jan Vermeulen and data privacy researcher Murray Hunter explain that the app does not collect any personal data.

Vermeulen says users are not required to register their personal information to use the app. He adds that the app is not a contact-tracing system.

The app is a Covid-19 exposure notification system that uses Bluetooth technology instead of GPS tracking.

Using Bluetooth technology, the app will alert any user if they have been in close contact with any other user who has tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 14 days.

The app is completely anonymous and there's no way for users to trace back who tested positive for Covid-19.

The app is based on the exact same technology that's being rolled out elsewhere in the world.

Jan Vermeulen, Editor at Large at MyBroadband.co.za

It detects whether you have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive.

Jan Vermeulen, Editor at Large at MyBroadband.co.za

If someone tests positive, they can alert other app users. Everyone that they have been in close proximity to will be notified. It's completely anonymous. They won't know who tested postive.

Jan Vermeulen, Editor at Large at MyBroadband.co.za

This isn't a contact tracing system, it's completely anonymized. There's no way to trace back who tested positive.

Jan Vermeulen, Editor at Large at MyBroadband.co.za

Hunter explains that the developers of the app have put in place several mechanisms to ensure that user privacy and personal information are protected.

He says it's built on the Apple–Google Exposure Notifications app and user privacy and security are at the core of the design to eliminate any possible data-tracking.

There's good documentation that this app has been designed to specifically address [data privacy] concerns and to make sure that sort of thing isn't happening.

Murray Hunter, Data privacy researcher

The government does not collect your location, it doesn't monitor your movements. It doesn't obtain your identity or try to identify your contacts.

Murray Hunter, Data privacy researcher

You can download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play store.

Listen to Jan Vermeulen in conversation with John Maytham:

Listen to Murray Hunter in conversation with Lester Kiewit:


18 September 2020 11:59 AM
Tags:
Covid-19 alert app
Covid-19 app
Covid-19 notification app

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