Ehteraz app protects user’s privacy: expert
May 26 2020 01:14 AM
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The Ehteraz app is meant to protect the society and the individuals against any further spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) as it is directly linked to the health information of the users at the database of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), Qatari IT experts have said.
Speaking to local Arabic daily Arrayah, they pointed out that the application uses digital technology to enhance the safety and health of Qatar residents by identifying the chains of transmission of infection when in contact with infected people, which would give the users’ instant recommendations enabling them to avoid further spreading the disease to others.
Mohamed al-Kuwari, an IT expert, stressed that Ehteraz app is based on 100% authenticated health data in identifying the chains of Covid-19 among the users, because it is linked directly to their heath profiles registered at the MoPH database. 
As for the concerns on the privacy of users, he pointed out that the app does not collect any information from the users’ phones and uses only the related health information to identify the infected and potentially infected cases according to the related laws and regulations of the country, indicated in the app itself. Besides, the detailed privacy policy of the app will be included soon with it.
Al-Kuwari explained that the app needs to access the memory of the phone, and the location, in addition to its Bluetooth because it needs to upload such information to the server of the app to do its designated tasks, and it works in the same way for both Android and iOS phones.
Khalid al-Ammari, another IT expert, said that the Ehteraz app has many advantages and benefits that could help the entities concerned identify the chains of infection and track them accordingly, and hence it needs to access the location and Bluetooth of the phone. 
He explained that the app does not in any way infringe on the privacy of the users as it does not track the photos, contacts, or access the microphone and speakers of the phone. Location tracking is a part of many apps related to health and fitness. 
“The same applies to the means of social media and communication, which determines the locations of friends within the same location, which though is a less trusted app people use them on a daily basis. However, Ehteraz is a government app and fully trusted, which guarantees the protection of user’s privacy, and its target is well-known and declared for the good of all the inhabitants of the country,” he said.
IT researcher Mohamed al-Jefairi told Arrayah he had contacted the authorities concerned to inquire about the need to constantly keep Bluetooth on and was informed that it is to guarantee the accuracy of the location of the users in case broadcast is disrupted and accordingly would give a clear image on the health status of the person and whether he had been in contact with infected persons. In this way, messages will be sent instantly to the user to take the desired action and avoid any potential risks. He also pointed out that similar applications have been very successful in countries such as Singapore.



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