Faizel Patel – 25/09/2020
NGO Right2Know says if the Health Departments new COVID-19 app is using Bluetooth technology, there is a possibility it could be gathering users personal data or information.
According to government, the recently launched Covid Alert SA app will help in finding people who may have been exposed to the Coronavirus.
President Cyril Ramaphosa last week told the nation to use the app.
According to details available on the app, it is built on Apple and Google’s exposure notification framework and “has been designed to protect your identity and security”.
However, it has emerged that the app is allegedly another way of spying on South Africans.
Speaking to Radio Islam, Right2Know’s Thami Nkosi says South Africans may not yet have the “full picture” of the Covid Alert SA app.
“The Jury stands out and there are a couple of experts that have been looking to that operation to give us a sense of whether this is safe to use or not. But what we are told is that it uses Bluetooth and it’s safe to use therefore it’s not going be actually collecting peoples movements and other things. But, the experience we have globally with the use of this app during this pandemic, is that it hasn’t worked elsewhere and the question is why are we using it now?”
Nkosi says anything that exposes users smartphones to generate any form of information becomes vulnerable to being intercepted by hackers or criminals.
“That’s the danger and I don’t think we’ve been addressing those dangers. I don’t know what the firewall system is of the government to ensure that no hackers can hack into the process, but I think these are some of the question we need to raise. I saw there was a survey that was done by Newzroom Africa looking at what people are concerned about their privacy with this app. Overwhelmingly, majority of the people were saying they are concerned about the honesty and the transparency the government has shown.”
Meanwhile social media law expert Emma Sadleir has allayed fears over privacy concerns related to the government’s Covid Alert SA app.
Sadlier says she has analysed the app and has no concerns adding that fears over privacy issues are unfounded urging South Africans not to believe disinformation and fake news.
Listen to the interview with Thami Nkosi