MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Thursday, March 31, 2022

Has MySejahtera outlived its usefulness?


There have been calls to do away with contact tracing as it may no longer be relevant while Malaysia transitions to the endemic phase.

PETALING JAYA: The takeover of the management of the MySejahtera application by a private firm has given rise to concerns over a breach and misuse of personal user data as well as public surveillance.

This comes amid calls for MySejahtera to be abandoned as the country transitions into the endemic phase.

FMT looks at the app’s takeover, the concerns over personal data management and public surveillance, and whether its usage is still necessary.

MySJ’s takeover

MySejahtera was initially developed by Entomo Malaysia Sdn Bhd (formerly known as KPISoft Malaysia Sdn Bhd) for free under a corporate social responsibility arrangement, which ceased on March 31 last year.

Subsequently, MySJ Sdn Bhd, a private firm, negotiated with Entomo for the transfer of the app.

Citing court documents, health news portal CodeBlue reported that Entomo will grant MySJ a non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sublicensable right and perpetual licence to use its software to exclusively develop, own the trademark, and test and support the MySejahtera app.

The October 2020 licence agreement between the two will reportedly see Entomo transfer the app’s intellectual property and grant its software licence to MySJ for RM338.6 million in a five-year three-month deal extending till the end of 2025.

Under the agreement, MySJ only acquires a licence for Entomo’s MySejahtera software and “does not acquire any other rights or ownership interests”.

Will a private company own the user data?

On Monday, health minister Khairy Jamaluddin reiterated the app belongs to the government and all its data was handled by the ministry, adding that the maintenance of the platform was the only issue.

He said the government was still negotiating with MySJ on the terms of subscribing to the services of the MySejahtera app, adding that the amount negotiated was far lower than the RM300 million reported.

He said only the health ministry can access the MySejahtera data which is stored in a “secure, government server”, while only the management of the app was handled by a private firm.

Concerns over personal data management and public surveillance

Concerns soon emerged, with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim warning of potential abuse and commercialised use of personal information obtained through MySejahtera.

Anwar called for a comprehensive investigation by Parliament to identify all matters involving the MySejahtera app.

Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan, meanwhile, called for a cut-off date for the usage of the app, which he described as a “surveillance mechanism”.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Koh Kar Chai pointed out that each MySejahtera account was linked to the user’s identity card and was non-transferable, but noted that the biggest concern was over the security of the data.

“What is lacking in our healthcare structure is a centralised management system of the population’s health records,” he said, adding that personal health records were not accessible across different healthcare facilities and providers.

Is MySejahtera still necessary?

Universiti Sains Malaysia virologist Kumitaa Theva Das said digital contact tracing may no longer be relevant as the country transitions to the endemic phase.

She said as the public were now accustomed to living with the virus, and noting the overall decrease in cases, now would be a good time to reconsider MySejahtera’s “check-in” function.

“It is possible for the check-in feature to be phased out because digital contact tracing may no longer be effective in preventing transmission of the virus. However, we still need MySejahtera for proof of vaccination,” she told FMT.

Kumitaa said a surveillance mechanism must still be in place as a preventative measure, at least until cases have lowered globally.

What has the health minister said?

Yesterday, Khairy said his ministry will evaluate the Covid-19 infection pattern in the country for a few weeks after April 1 before deciding on stopping the use of MySejahtera.

He said if there was no clear change in infection patterns several weeks after Malaysia’s borders reopen and other SOP relaxations come into effect tomorrow, then people can stop using the app.

He said he expected the ministry to conclude negotiations with MySJ on MySejahtera’s software licence agreement terms in less than a month.

Recommendations for MySejahtera

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said the current “check in” feature could be converted into a “Green Pass” system, where patrons only need to show their status before stepping into  premises.

On the concerns over a breach of the app’s data and potential hacks, Yii called for the adoption of blockchain technology as a better mechanism to verify vaccination certificates.

With Khairy soon to give a detailed explanation in the Dewan Negara on questions raised by several parties regarding the issue, it remains to be seen what the future of MySejahtera is. - FMT

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.