MySejahtera not an app for spying, says Health Ministry

MySejahtera app permissions to access users’ smart device features are required to enable it to function, not to spy on citizens, says Health Ministry. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

The Ministry of Health (MOH) is debunking claims that the MySejahtera app was being used to spy on citizens, saying its purpose was only to curb the Covid-19 pandemic’s spread.

“Recently, there had been a viral video which claimed MySejahtera’s purpose wasn’t only as a contact tracing app, but to allow the government to spy on the public,” it said in response to a local video making those allegations.

In a statement, the ministry clarified that the app’s function was as a contact tracing tool and to inform the public of any critical updates.

It explained that previously contact tracing had been done manually through interviews with patients and tracing their movements. However, with the app, the ministry could obtain information faster and more accurately.

The ministry assured that its data privacy followed global standards, as well as being in line with the Medical Act 1971, Infectious Disease Act 1988, and Personal Data Protection Act 2010

“Contact tracing apps all over the world, like MySejahtera, require permissions from device owners to be used,” it said.

It explained the permissions such as ‘Access Coarse Location’ was to enable the Hotspot Tracker feature on demand to inform users as to where high risk areas were; ‘Call Phone’ was to connect users to the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) hotline; while ‘Internet’ access was so users could utilise all the app’s online features; among others.

The data collected belonged to the ministry and was managed by the National Cyber Security Agency (Nasca) and National Security Council.

Recently, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said most of the 9,167 Covid-19 cases were identified through the app.

He revealed that as of Nov 18, the app had recorded 1.7 billion cumulative check-ins using its QR code feature at registered premises, with an average of 15 million check-ins a day.

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