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There has been a fierce debate raging on the internet ever since President Cyril Ramaphosa encouraged South Africans to download the Covid Alert SA App. Put simply, it’s a free mobile app which uses Bluetooth contact-tracing technology to let people know if they have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19. However, many South Africans are skeptical of the technology, with some claiming it’s another way for ‘big brother’ to keep an eye on us and collect our data.
BizNews founder Alec Hogg spoke to Emma Sadleir, a leading expert on privacy and data. Sadleir said she would appeal to everyone to download the app because it could be the only way to contain the epidemic.
“From a privacy law point of view, I don’t see any reason that people should be nervous that big brother is watching us and that this is going to have huge privacy concerns. It takes very little personal information. It is an entirely anonymous app, which means that any of those privacy concerns that people have out there surely should be very small, if any.”
“It relies on your Bluetooth. The app doesn’t collect any personal information. It doesn’t collect your name, it doesn’t collect your email address, your phone number. No location is collected or stored. All it does is that it tells you if within the previous 14 days you’ve come into contact with somebody who has voluntarily disclosed that they have tested positive. It doesn’t tell you who that person is. It doesn’t tell you exactly where that exposure took place. It just tells you that on a specific day you came into close contact with somebody who was tested positive.”
Our community members told us what they think and the room is certainly divided.
I won’t download the app
“Downloading this app is madness. This virus has shown, above all else, the ability for the population to lose their logical minds, and to show governments just how easy it is to manipulate and control the population. How does a government have the ability to tell someone they cannot work to earn a living? This boggles my mind. The fact that the media pushes a narrative, and plays on people’s paranoia, which then gets public by in (stasi, gestapo) to control and punish people not listening and obeying, has shown me how easily manipulated people are. L Ron Hubbard’s quote about starting a religion springs to mind. No, I will not download the app. No I will not adhere to regulations that prevent me from making a living, and no, I will not listen to the paranoid. I have no fear of this virus, or any other, nor have I a fear of death. What I do fear, is not living life while I’m actually alive. People seem to have missed that.”
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.