South Africans encouraged to download COVID Alert SA app

SABC News COVID 19 App R - South Africans encouraged to download COVID Alert SA app

South Africans have been urged to download the COVID Alert SA app that’s been launched by the Health Department. It’s aimed at helping the country with tracking the virus and cutting down new infections. The free app is part of a global initiative by tech giants Apple and Google.

Privacy experts have assured South Africans that the newly launched app will not infringe on their privacy.

The Department of Health launched the app to help with contact tracing related to the coronavirus (COVID-19). People who test positive for the virus can share their status anonymously on the app.

This will help alert their close contacts who are also using the same app.

In order for it to be effective, users need to keep their Bluetooth on at all times. Its success will depend on the number of users who download the app.


Privacy Advocate Emma Sadlier says there are always privacy concerns when it comes to technology.

“There are always privacy concerns when we using technology. I think as soon as they start using your location, people start feeling nervous about privacy. I have been through the app with the developers and I’m entirely satisfied that it’s anonymised. They don’t collect your personal information; no name no email address, no phone number and no location is collected or stored. And because it’s completely anonymous, those data protection laws then it falls outside of our new privacy legislation.”

The app is available for both Apple App Store and Google’s Android users. It’s free to download and is less than 10-megabytes.

Health Department Director-General Sandile Buthelezi is positive that the app will help the country lower the infection rate.

“We are very honoured this morning that this dream has finally come true. We are now at the point where we finally putting this product at the hands of South Africans. They must take charge and it’s up to them to be part of the solution in terms of ensuring that we are able to contain the infections. That we are able to stay where we are and not reach out to the second surge as a country.”

The number of subscribers will have a big impact on the success of the app. Online Legal Expert, Advocate Stuart Scott, has reiterated that the app won’t compromise your privacy.

“The app functions on a completely anonymous space. So there are no identifiers of your phone, number or space, your address or your location. There’s no GPS location tracking. The only thing, it’s used for its tracking; it cannot be used to access your personal information. In other words, the app does not have any access to your emails and contacts. And the second key feature for privacy is that every stage is completely monitoring. So privacy law is all about control.”

 Department of Health launches app for COVID-19 contact tracing: 

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