SA Covid-19 Tracing App – To Download or Not?

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread, scientists are working around the clock to develop a cure, and on the other side of the spectrum – independent developers and multinational corporations are working at the same pace to develop apps and services related to contact tracing. Closer to home, President Ramaphosa has encouraged his citizens to download SA’s Covid-19 tracing app.

Despite the influx of Covid-19 related apps recently, there seems to be a general census globally that there is a lack of transparency with certain apps when it comes to the collection of personal data.

… the fact is that sometimes as consumers and even more so South Africans we’re a little more trusting than others and that’s because we have some sort of expectation that reputable organisations like these tech giants, banking institutions and even online stores will respect our right to privacy and they very much do, for the most part, that is of course under their control.

We do however live in a world where, when it comes to technology there is, unfortunately, no guarantee that any personal information that is stored on some cloud is actually 100% safeguarded, and in South Africa, it really is no different.

When it comes to tech, there are always going to be advantages and disadvantages with varying technologies but the advantage of a Bluetooth-based system, in terms of privacy, is that it doesn’t depend on collecting location data, and so the individual identities of people are not supposedly tied to contact events. Rather the tracing apps that come into contact with each other through this technology would upload random tracing numbers which could be matched back at a later stage once someone tests positive for Covid-19. Not a surprising approach by the SA Government after the passing of the PoPI Act in July 2020.

…Similarly, in the case of the Covid-19 tracing app, the personal information is saved on the user’s personal device and not on a centralised private or government-owned database – meaning that the personal information never physically leaves the device and, in a way, protecting the privacy of individuals in line with the PoPI Act.

So regardless of whether the app ends up containing the spread of the virus, for me, it’s about actually seeing the spread of the virus captured through data as opposed to coming into contact with someone who is infected and being completely blind to it. The app will give a realistic view of the spread in real-time.

Taken from: South Africa’s Covid-19 Tracing App – Would You Download it?, Jarred Mailer-Lyons, BizCommunity, Sept. 21, 2020


Dear Net Buddies,

This article about technology is a little complicated, but we know you can handle it.

The core question it asks is whether you trust the Covid-19 app makers and the South African government who approves them to protect your personal data.

So, what do you think – would you trust these major international companies with your personal data?

Based on what you read in this article, do you have to trust them – or is there something in the way the app is built that helps protect you?

This week, we are going to give you 2 options for your response:

1) Write 3-4 sentences about the article and answer these questions, or

2) Come back to us with 3 questions of your own about something that didn’t make sense to you.

You can trust you will get a thoughtful response from Author Tim O’Mara or the IF Team.

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