When the MySJ Trace feature was introduced late last year it was met with some resistance.
It was touted as an important component of the Health Ministry’s efforts to better their Covid-19 track and trace efforts.
So much so that its minister, Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar, considered making it compulsory for all My Sejahtera app users if not enough people used it.
READ MORE: MOH Really Wants You To Use MySJ Trace
However, people were worried about their privacy, phone battery life, and were generally shy about adopting this new feature.
To address some of the issues Dr Mahesh Appannan took to Twitter.
Dr Mahesh is the head of data at the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) and the senior principal assistant director, CPRC Disease Control Division.
In a recent thread, Dr Mahesh addressed three questions.
Why does my “interaction” number go up, even though I’m staying at home?
Dr Mahesh says that the average range of the Bluetooth technology used by MySJ Trace is 10m.
But this could be affected by many factors such as the model of your smartphone and if it is placed in a bag or a pocket.
Because most of us take our phones out while at home, your phone may be detecting your neighbour’s phone and making the number go up.
This is even more so if you live in an apartment where you have a neighbour above, below and on the sides as well.
So don’t worry if the number of “interactions” in MySJ Trace go up.
Is MySJ Trace exposing my data when there is an “interaction”?
Dr Mahesh says no.
All your data is stored in your phone and access to it requires explicit consent. It will only be requested if you are Covid-19 positive.
Else the data will be erased after 14 days.
This practice, says Dr Mahesh, is used in the UK and Singapore.
He added that there is no exchange of information happening when an “interaction” is recorded either if privacy is what you’re worried about.
So, why do I still need to check in using the QR code?
Dr Mahesh boils it down to “because not everyone will use the MySj Trace system.”
The Ministry of Health still needs data to detect close contacts, especially in large clusters. So check-ins still help.
While MySejahtera check-ins can tell how long someone has been at a general location, MySj Trace can tell how close you were to someone and for how long.
By combining MySj Trace and check-ins, close contact confirmation could be done automatically and more accurately.
At the same time, KKM can get the critical data that they need.
Biar saya jelaskan 3 perkara yang mungkin anda persoalkan:— Dr Mahesh Appannan (@maheshappannan) January 2, 2022
1) Mengapa ada “interaction” walaupun saya duduk di rumah sahaja?
2) Adakah MySJ Trace mendedahkan data saya bila ada “interaction”? (langsung tidak)
3) Mengapa masih perlu check-in dengan scan QR?
BONUS QUESTION: Why isn’t the government using the Exposure Notification, the feature jointly developed by Apple and Google just for this very purpose?
According to Dr Mahesh, that’s because the feature requires total anonymity and could not be integrated within My Sejahtera that already contains your identity, vaccination status, and other personal information.
Therefore, the government would have had to develop a different app just to use Exposure Notification.
By Google/Apple (GA) standards, an Exposure Notif (EN) app cannot break user anonymity. It must record proximity data anonymously.— Dr Mahesh Appannan (@maheshappannan) January 2, 2022
MySJ has your identity, vaccination status, etc. It doesn’t qualify. To use GAEN, we would have needed a new app.https://t.co/Tu6TjEzpj8
Do you still have questions about MySJ Trace?
Check out the MySJ Trace FAQ and follow Dr Mahesh on Twitter where he has been actively answering questions about the new feature and Covid-19 data in general.