Filipinos urged to use StaySafe, contact tracing app developer allays privacy concern

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 3) — The government is urging the public to use the StaySafe digital application in a bid to improve the country’s contact tracing efforts.

“Sana po gamitin ng lahat, coronavirus task force spokesperson Harry Roque said in a briefing

[Translation: We hope everyone uses it.]

“We want all the Filipinos to use it, so we will have uniform application,” Roque said,

noting that StaySafe is the official health declaration form.

Local firm Multisys Technologies Corporation developed StaySafe, which is an online platform (StaySafe.ph) and app, which can be downloaded on smartphones.

StaySafe was first rolled out in April.

Some information technology experts and former Department of Information and resigned Communications Technology official Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. earlier expressed concern about how the information collected from users will be utilized by the government.

How it works

Individuals could register in StaySafe using their cellphone numbers. Upon finishing the registration process, users will be asked to choose in the list of COVID-19 symptoms indicated, whichever may be applicable to them, to determine if their health condition.

All the data collected is stored on the Department of Health’s database, which could be accessed by contact tracers.

The app also alerts users if there are suspected or confirmed cases in certain areas.

Multisys chief operating officer and founder David Almirol said this could protect people as they would which places to avoid to less their exposure to infected persons.

No surveillance

Almirol also allayed data privacy concerns raised about the app, saying users, except for suspected and confirmed cases, will not be "under surveillance."

“Ang surveillance po ay sa nagkakasakit lang,” he said.

[Translation: Only those who are sick will be under surveillance.]

“Mali ang impression na kapag nag-download ka ng StaySafe ay parang nasu-surveillance ka,” he added.

[Translation: The impression that you will be under surveillance once you download StaySafe is wrong.]