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Malaysia introduced 4 apps during MCO, but how safe is your data when you use it?

about 4 years ago Matdura S.





This article is for general informational purposes only and is not meant to be used or construed as legal advice in any manner whatsoever. All articles have been scrutinized by a practicing lawyer to ensure accuracy.



As we enter new phases of the MCO/CMCO every other week, it’s been tough for some of us to keep up with all the updates that follow through. There have been certain restrictions on traveling and businesses operations—but also leeways to ease us into the CMCO that will be extended for another month.

[READ MORE: 5 regulations that have been relaxed during phase 5 of the MCO]

Now what better way to be on track, than to just...look it up on your phone? With more than 1.4 million Malaysians who applied for interstate travel permits and wanting to know about the latest COVID-19 updates—the government launched several mobile phone applications and sites to help us during these trying times.

These apps are introduced to help us prevent COVID-19 from further spreading, by providing certain information to the public and authorities. The information that the app can provide include a person’s full name, identification number and even track their location/whereabouts!

So if you’re thinking about going out for something important,  you will need to give these apps the permission to keep track of your location. But this can give users a second thought: How safe is my info with the authorities?

Now before we answer the burning question (that we hope to have ignited inside of you) let’s take a look at what some of these apps are and how they work. 


1. MySejahtera gives you information about COVID-19

Image from NST

The MySejahtera app serves more than one purpose to manage this pandemic. This Malaysian-made app allows users to carry out their own health-checks on themselves and their families, provides information on the location of nearby clinics and explains the immediate action that needs to be taken if someone is suspected of having the infection. 

The self health-checks are carried out via a questionnaire, which will then provide results if a person is actually at risk of being infected by the virus or not. All you need to do is register your phone number or email address via MySejahtera’s website and you’re good to go!

The app is available on most mobile devices and can be downloaded from the Apple Store, Google Play Store, and Huawei App Gallery. 


2. Mytrace let’s you know if you’re near someone who’s infected

Everything is better with Bluetooth - Sheldon Big Bang Theory ...

Your bluetooth device might have a new purpose in life apart from connecting to your car/laptop because, the MyTrace app requires bluetooth activation!

The app basically works by allowing ‘contact tracing’, if a person comes in contact with an infected person. For instance, if you’re out to buy food from a nearby mamak and you have the MyTrace app in your phone—the bluetooth in your phone can detect the distance and duration of contact with a COVID-19 positive person—assuming the person has downloaded the same app too. 

A recent update was also made, that stated the MySejahtera and MyTrace apps are now linked. So you can directly access MyTrace via the MySejahtera app. But you’ll still need to download both the apps for them to work accordingly. 

You’ll most likely benefit from the app at present as Khairy Jamaluddin stated, that the MyTrace app will be most useful once the MCO has been loosened or lifted...which is basically right now. 


3. Gerak Malaysia lets you travel interstate

Only 10% who registered for interstate travel on app have verified ...
Image from TheStar

This is probably the most popular app for the past week as most Malaysians have applied for interstate traveling during the CMCO period. The GerakMalaysia app essentially helps PDRM and the Health Ministry trace movement of Malaysians who travel within the country.

Users can now register or apply for interstate travels using the app, which is available on the Apple Store, Huawei AppGallery and Google Play Store. 

The interstate travels started operating in this order last week:

  • May 7: From KL to other states in the Peninsula.
  • May 8: From Perak, Johor and Kelantan. 
  • May 9: From Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Melaka and Pahang.
  • May 10: From Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Terengganu.

In the Prime Minister’s latest announcement, the CMCO now gives leeway to couples working in different states, to finally meet. He also appealed to Sabah and Sarawak’s state governments to allow for this.

So the interstate travel regulations that was initially allowed for work purposes, has been loosened slightly for couples to reunite during the CMCO. Permission to travel can be applied via the Gerak Malaysia app, or at the nearest police station. 

Now if you’re applying for interstate travels, the data collected by the app include the applicant’s full name, IC number, mobile number and address. The app also requires users to leave their location on during the traveling period.

You can check out the FAQ on GerakMalaysia if you’d like to know more on how it works.


4. SElangkah tracks Selangorians who are out and about

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This one is specially for Selangorians. If you’ve FOMO because you don’t live in Selangor, we’re sorry but it’s probably for the best (judging from the high number of COVID-19 cases in the state). 

Now SElangkah isn’t actually an app, because it’s basically a QR code which is required to be displayed at all premises, including private and government buildings. Visitors who visit the premise should scan the QR code, where their mobile number will then be logged into the system with the timestamp from their visit. 

As you can probably tell by now, this app works like a visitors log. It helps businesses keep track of their guests on a daily basis. This way, if there is an infected person, the authorities can track the places where the infected person went, and do the necessary quarantine or sanitization measures. The QR Code can be downloaded by business owners at this website from May 5 onwards. 

So, if you happen to visit your local supermarket for instance, you’d be able to see the QR codes at the entrance, where you’ll be asked to scan the code via your mobile phone.

Now that you know how these apps work and what kind of information you need to provide, we’ll answer that burning question we posed earlier, on whether it’s actually legal for these apps to store your personal info. 


How safe is your personal data with the government?

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Some of you might be wary of giving out your info. Not because you’re doing anything wrong (we hope), but because you might like having certain things private.

In the terms and conditions laid down by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), particularly with regard to the GerakMalaysia app, the government and MCMC can only store and use the information provided up to 6 months after the MCO. 

In other words, your personal data is collected, but  they’re not allowed to do anything they want with it. The Personal Data and Protection Act 2010 (PDPA) sets down several principles and regulations to protect the data of users. For instance, Section 9 of the PDPA binds authorities/companies to protect your data from being misused or disclosed without authorization. 

However, there are certain exemptions for several parties on the non-compliance of the PDPA—the Act mentions that the Federal Government and state governments may be exempted from the PDPA. This means that in some cases, the authorities CAN retrieve your info, if it’s considered important.

Due to the current pandemic state we’re in, the collection of certain data can be said to be necessary at this point of time. However, there have been calls made to review the existing laws on data protection due to COVID-19 and the CMCO. 

Since we finally notice a gap in the law on data privacy, we might just end up having stricter privacy laws in the future.

gerak malaysia
selangkah selangor
data privacy
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Matdura S.

Very aunty-social.