Makabayan bloc wants probe on “irregularities’ in IATF’s StaySafe.ph app
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives’ Makabayan bloc is asking that StaySafe.ph, the government’s official contact tracing application be probed for alleged irregularities, effectiveness, and data privacy.
Under House Resolution No. 1009, the Makabayan lawmakers noted how former Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr., said in a Facebook post dated June 13 that only 3G-capable phones can access the application, with only one percent of the population, or just over a million, having registered for the StaySafe application.
“Also, since the app will work only on smartphones and only in places where there are mobile internet services, this may lessen further its effectiveness as there are still around 20 million 2G phones out there,” Rio said in his Facebook post.
The Makabayan lawmakers also pointed out Rio’s concerns over data privacy issues. In the same Facebook post, Rio said that the locator tracker for contact tracing is only the permission needed, “yet the developer insists to have a number of permissions like access to the phone’s camera and to modify and delete content in your phone’s storage.”
“People are not properly informed that when you register to StaySafe, these permissions are by default granted. Is this to please the main sponsor of StaySafe who is involved in intelligence?” Rio said.
With these issues raised, the Makabayan lawmakers said an investigation, in aid of legislation, is needed.
“These issues surrounding StaySafe touches many grounds for a thorough investigation by government bodies. From the process of selection, effectivity, and data privacy, the interests of the Filipino people are put to great risks,” the lawmakers said in the resolution.
“As all government funds, resources, and efforts, not to mention crippling borrowings, are being put into COVID-19 responses, the House of Representatives should be pro-actively on guard against issues of corruption, abuse, and breaches to the rights and welfare of our people,” they added.
The resolution was signed by Bayan Muna representatives Eufemia Cullamat, Carlos Isagani Zarate, and Ferdinand Gaite; Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas; ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro; and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago.
Rio earlier said he was “eased out” as undersecretary of the DICT after questioning the selection of StaySafe.ph as the country’s official contact tracing app.
In an Inquirer report, Multisys Technologies Corp. CEO David Almirol Jr. insisted that the app is fully functional “but he acknowledged the need to resolve integration issues between different operating systems for mobile devices.”
Multisys is the developer of the StaySafe.ph application.
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