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Covid-19: Nigeria Deploys Tracking App Despite Privacy Concerns Worldwide

The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says it has developed a COVID-19 contacts-tracing software application that can be deployed in all its locations across the country.

The General Manager, Information Technology Division (ITD), Danladi Inuwa, was quoted by the corporation spokesperson, Dr. Kennie Obateru, to have said,

“The Contacts-Tracing Solution is ready to be deployed, all the technical testing have been done and the solution is ready to go live.

“Everywhere you go around NNPC locations will be covered by this novel application, which will reveal all information about persons visiting any official.

“Should there be any medical challenge, the NNPC Medical will be able to track from the information at the data base all the contacts and advise properly,” Inuwa said.

Tracking Apps Spark Privacy Concerns

Authorities in China and Norway have deployed similar mobile tracking softwares to identify and locate potential covid-19 carriers in the countries as a way to curb the spike of the pandemic.

The technology uses geo-spatial data, collected through the mobile devices’ inbuilt global positioning system, has helped officials to locate hundreds of thousands people who might have contracted covid-19 by interacting with the carriers or attending the virus hotspot locations.

However, the negative reviews the mobile applications receive has created suspicion and left many people deeply concerned about the their privacy especially in countries like China.

Combining the use of facial recognition and geo-spatial data, China has reportedly been successful in tracking whose online activities were critical of the government.

There are fears that the tracking apps will add up to the country’s online surveillance.

Amnesty International had conducted analysis of 11 apps across the world, including those in Norway, Bahrain and Kuwait.

The organisation concluded that the apps were implemented without giving enough attention on the security of people’s data.

“The Norwegian app is deeply intrusive and put people’s privacy at risk. It is the right decision to press pause and go back to drawing board yo design an app that puts privacy at front and centre,” stated Claidio Guarneri, the Amnesty’s lead researcher.

The apps deployed in Bahrain and Kuwait monitor users’ locations from a central server and could also pair with Bluetooth bracelets to ensure citizens are always near their phones.

In Qatar, Amnesty said it discovered a serious vulnerability in the app. The app has the power to do live location tracking of users and could be used by hackers to acquire names, IDs, health status and quarantine locations of the users.

Norway was reported to have suspended the use of the app in the country after privacy concerns were raised by analysts and white hat hackers.

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