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COVID-19 Tracking Devices To Be Introduced In Malaysia Soon, Should We Be Worried?

A method to track and trace.


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COVID-19 Tracking Devices To Be Introduced In Malaysia Soon, Should We Be Worried?
Ask you to wear the pink tag, tak nak

Ask you to quarantine at home, tak nak

Well, now the authorities have a surprise present for you. 

(And by you, we mean and hope this includes or is particularly meant for all the politicians, VVIPs and others who have been caught flouting COVID-19 regulations). 

The government has decided to include a new provision under the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 for the usage of COVID-19 related tracking devices.

According to a report by The Star, the new provision, among five others, will come into force on 11 March.

Commenting on the tracking device, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said that it would be in the shape of a wristband. 

Those who would have to use it include people who tested positive for COVID-19, persons under investigation (PIU), close contacts of COVID-19 patients and persons under surveillance. 

"The device is to be worn for 10 days," he said in the report. 

Not much else was divulged. 

Tracking bracelets already being used in the country

Tracking bracelets are however, not a new thing. 

According to a report by Malay Mail, personal tracking devices in the form of QR-coded wristbands were already introduced in Sarawak in March last year. 

We're monitoring you.

Unfortunately, there have been no concrete follow-up reports to demonstrate the effectiveness of the wristbands and safety concerns, if any.

Do we have the capability to actually keep track of all the data generated? 

Has it helped keep COVID-19 numbers down? 

These remain unknown. 

Digital trackers also used in other countries

Many other countries have also turned to GPS trackers in the form of wristbands to ensure people are sticking to quarantine orders. 

Using tech to control spread.

Israel just recently introduced these black coloured bands which are worn on the wrist. 

Safe Korea.

South Korea's version aptly says 'Safe Korea'. 

Keeping tabs.

Those under quarantine in Hong Kong have been told to slap these wristbands on. 

Containing the infection.

The version in Bahrain looks like a smartwatch.

Singapore and their digital tokens

Meanwhile, in Singapore, devices called Trace Together Tokens are handed out to keep COVID-19 contained. 

A tracking device.

A BBC report on the tokens detailed that the batteries could last for up to nine months!

National ID numbers along with phone numbers are required before the device is handed out. 

Authorities claim that the devices do not log GPS location data and cannot connect to mobile networks. This basically means that they cannot track a person's movements lah.

No GPS tracking.
When a person is handed the Trace Together Token, they are required to bring it along wherever they go. 

What happens is that the token then gathers information when it detects another token (carried by another person). 

So in practice, a person found COVID-19 positive, would just have to surrender the device to the authorities and they would be able to track anyone who has came in close contact with them.

Malaysia's tracking device

While not much has been elaborated on the device that Malaysia is planning to introduce, the main concern on everyone's minds is data privacy.

As it is, our smartphones are recording every single thing we do online. 

We talk about cake and suddenly a bunch of cake adverts pop up on our feed. It's just really scary and creepy. 

Tracked and traced.

Another long-term worry is that if tech like this is allowed now, could it become a precedent for the same tech to be used once the pandemic ends? 

Could the future see places such as offices or even schools making it compulsory for us to wear these tracking devices in order to "keep tabs" of us? 

Is it a breech of our privacy and rights or an invasion of our freedom?

Should all this be set aside due to the pandemic? 

Should specific clauses be put in place to ensure that our rights are protected?

What do you think? Even if introduced, what can be done to protect us, the average citizen?

Share your thoughts in the comments section. 

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