AI warns of invasive contact-tracing apps in Bahrain, Kuwait, Norway

Berlin, Jun 16 (efe-epa).- Some contact-tracing apps that have been developed to contain Covid-19 outbreaks put the security and privacy of users at risk, Amnesty International warned on Tuesday.

The rights NGO said apps rolled out in Bahrain, Kuwait and Norway were the most invasive.

AI’s Berlin-based Security Lab analyzed 11 apps developed by states in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe and rated them on a ‘bad to dangerous’ for human rights scale.

“Governments across the world need to press pause on rolling out flawed or excessively intrusive contact tracing apps that fail to protect human rights. If contact tracing apps are to play an effective part in combating COVID-19 people need to have confidence their privacy will be protected,” Claudio Guarnieri, Head of Amnesty International’s Security Lab, said in a statement.

The apps that featured as most dangerous due to their mass surveillance facilities were Bahrain’s BeAware Bahrai’, Kuwait’s Shlonik and Norway’s Smittestopp.

“Bahrain, Kuwait and Norway have run roughshod over people’s privacy, with highly invasive surveillance tools which go far beyond what is justified in efforts to tackle COVID-19,” Guarnieri added.

All three countries have applied a principle of aggressive centralization to store and upload GPS coordinates to a central server in real-time allowing authorities to know the exact location of users, the rights group warned.

What is of most concern, is that users are easily and quickly identifiable in Bahrain and Kuwait as user registration is linked to national identification numbers. The Norwegian model registered users with their telephone number.

AI raised concerns over the French contact-tracing app and its lack of transparency regarding data storage.

Germany’s app, which launches Tuesday, was praised for protecting user privacy better than others.

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