MySejahtera Should Verify Phone Numbers Like Penang Contact Tracing App, MP Says

First-time PGCare users must key in an OTP to verify their phone number.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 — A DAP lawmaker today suggested in Parliament that the federal government’s MySejahtera Covid-19 contact tracing app ascertain users’ phone numbers like Penang’s PGCare app.

Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim said first-time users of PGCare will be asked to key in a one-time password (OTP) to verify their phone number, before users scan a PGCare QR code upon checking in at a business premise.

“This criterion is absent from MySejahtera if you don’t use the MySejahtera app,” said Sim while debating the King’s Speech in the Dewan Rakyat, citing his experience scanning the MySejahtera QR code upon entering the Parliament building.

“I may make a mistake while keying in my phone number, or people may intentionally not key in their number correctly. This goes against the aim of contact tracing.”

Non-users who scan the MySejahtera QR code at a business premise are required to key in their name and phone number, without any extra verification process. Signing up for the app — which identifies Covid-19 hotspots near a user’s location and helps a user monitor their health — requires personal details like one’s username (either an email address or mobile number), contact number, full name, identity card number, age, gender, ethnicity, and address.

Sim also said contact tracing apps should avoid requiring users to repeatedly key in their information to avoid mistakes.

“Thirdly, I hope the government will allow SMS to record visits to premises,” Sim said, noting that PGCare also allows people to check-in at a location through SMS.

The Opposition lawmaker pointed out that not everyone uses smartphones, while some locations may not have good internet access.

“With so many contact tracing apps — Selangor’s SELangkah, Sarawak’s Qmunity — do you think it’s better to centralise all these by putting the database under the government so that it’s safer, rather than to have several third-party databases?” Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii (DAP) asked Sim in the Dewan Rakyat.

Besides the federal government’s MySejahtera and the Penang state government’s PGCare, other government contact tracing apps include Selangor’s SELangkah, and Sarawak’s Qmunity and COVIDTrace Sarawak.

“I agree that databases must be managed and controlled in a better and more detailed manner, so that it’s not only easy to access the data when needed, but also to improve personal data protection,” Sim replied.

SELangkah creator Dr Helmi Zakariah told CodeBlue in a recent interview that he opposed using a central contact tracing app as this could threaten personal data protection, expressing support instead for integrating various data ecosystems.

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