New regulations allow government to track your phone

Date:3 April 2020 Author: Leila Stein Tags:, ,

The Department of Health, under amendments to the National Disaster Act, now has permission to keep a database and track citizens who have tested positive for COVID-19, are suspected to be positive or are in contact with a positive patient.

“The National Department of Health shall develop and maintain a national database to enable the tracing of persons who are known or reasonably suspected to have come into contact with any person known or reasonably suspected to have contracted COVID-19,” the regulations state.

This will include:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Identity number/Passport number
  • Residential address
  • Work address/Other addresses where they could be located
  • Cellphone number
  • COVID-19 test results
  • The personal details of all known or suspected contacts of anyone who has tested positive for the virus

As well any other information the department considers necessary for contact tracing.

These new amendments also allow the department to access location and movement datas of those suspected to have COVID-19 for the duration of the State of Disaster.

Mobile operators must allow access without needing to seek the approval of the person being traced. However, this information can only be retained for six weeks and then must be destroyed.

However, the regulations assured citizens that the department will not be able to look at cellphone communications.

“Nothing in this regulation entitles the Director-General Health or any other person to intercept the contents of any electronic communication,” the regulations said.

To protect the data, the Director-General will tell those who had been tracked that they had been identified under this sub-regulation during this time.

“No person may disclose any information contained in the COVID-19 Tracing Database or any information obtained through this regulation unless authorized to do so and unless the disclosure is necessary for the purpose of addressing, preventing or combatting the spread of COVID-19,” the regulations state.

Image: Unsplash


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