All user data on Ehteraz app is completely confidential, says top official
From today, May 22, 2020, it is mandatory for all citizens and residents of Qatar to install the 'Ehteraz' app on their mobile phones.
According to the decision, "all citizens and residents are obligated to install the EHTERAZ App on smartphones when leaving the house for any reason."
This decision is effective from today until further notice.
Speaking to Qatar News Agency (QNA), a top official from the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) reaffirmed that the app aims to safeguard the wider community from the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and all user data is subject to complete confidentiality.
Sheikh Dr. Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani, Director of the Public Health Department at MOPH, said, the app will play a key role in preventing the spread of the infection in the country.
Director of the Public Health Department has reiterated that the recently launched Ehteraz app seeks to protect the community from Coronavirus infections and strengthen preventive measures to limit the spread of the virus in the State of Qatar #QNA— Qatar News Agency (@QNAEnglish) May 21, 2020
When someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, every person with the Ehteraz app that they have recently been in contact with receive an alert to go to the health center to be checked, the official said.
In terms of requesting permission to access photos, Sheikh Dr Mohammed said, "An alert may appear to request access to images and files automatically on some phones running the Android Operating System, but this is usual for such handsets."
He mentioned that the app requires this access to make sure the user data remains completely confidential and not compromised otherwise.
The data from the users of the Ehteraz app also provides an important and temporary backup reference in case the phone loses connectivity.
In this case, the app will provide data about the location in which the data was collected during the interruption period, to ensure users are provided accurate information.
Regarding the permanent operation of the Bluetooth and location features in the app, the Director of Public Health said, it helps in identifying whether the user has had any contact with an infected individual. It will also trace out whether the location concerned was a public place.
Additionally, the Bluetooth feature in Ehteraz can detect the distance between the phones of the users of the application. With two meters considered as a safe distance, the relevant authorities can obtain information to accurately track the transition strings of COVID-19.
The data acquired from Ehteraz is used by the competent authorities exclusively for medical and health purposes only, the official stressed.
“The Ehteraz app works in accordance with strict privacy policies and standards of data retention and subject to the highest international standards and laws related to privacy and health in Qatar, and the terms and conditions contain specific details about that,” Sheikh Dr Mohamed said.
Make sure you have properly installed the Ehteraz app. Here's a video regarding the steps to follow:
For any queries, or concerns related to COVID-19 in Qatar, the public can contact a 24/7 hotline set up by the Ministry. The hotline number is 16000 and is toll-free.
Here's everything you need to know about the virus, including ways to protect yourself.
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Cover image credit: Qatar Tribune