Lack of transparency on MySejahtera takeover concerning

PRIVACY and data security of Covid-19 tracking application MySejahtera remains a concern amid news that the government has decided to allow the application to be sold to a private company.

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs CEO Tricia Yeoh said the government needs to clarify what stringent steps were taken in the selection and appointment of this particular private company.

“The sale of MySejahtera to a private entity is of particular concern, given that the data encompasses the population of Malaysia’s private health data.

“This means that whichever entity is given the responsibility to administer the application must be extremely carefully appointed. Personal and health-related information is highly sensitive and, in the wrong hands, can be misused and abused,” she told The Malaysian Reserve yesterday.

Read more: Clarify sale of MySejahtera, Anwar tells govt

Yeoh said public trust and confidence are essential for the success of any government initiative.

“Thus far, millions of Malaysians have placed their faith in the app because they believe the benefits (contact tracing, monitoring of Covid symptoms and so on) outweigh the costs (government tracking of individual locations and access to personalised data).

“However, unless the government clarifies the circumstances under which this sale was conducted, and unless there is a clear answer that inspires confidence in the reasons for doing so, the risk is that the app will no longer be trusted, which will bring upon even greater challenges for a government trying to keep the pandemic under control,” she said further.

Read more: Travellers must have MySejahtera to enter Malaysia

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had asked the government to clarify the sale of MySejahtera to a private company instead of allowing the application to be regulated by the Health Ministry (MoH).

“Why was the decision made to sell MySejahtera to a private company instead of allowing the application to be regulated by the MoH? Why is the sale of this application not made through an open tender on the basis of transparency?” he said in a statement on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Centre for Market Education CEO Dr Carmelo Ferlito said the data collected via MySejahtera should be destroyed and the application itself abandoned.

“If you do not accept the app and its terms and conditions, you are deprived of your life. If you do so, instead, you are deprived of your privacy and governments, any government, would be in the position to threaten individuals about their behaviour choices.”

Regarding MoH’s decision to appoint MySJ Sdn Bhd as the new developer of MySejahtera, Ferlito said the due diligence process did not follow the proper procedure.

“I may even concede that the process did not follow the proper procedure out of hurry and good faith. But now we find a huge database of sensitive information without a true owner.”

He added that a private corporation would not have the right to enforce something like MySejahtera unless the government made it mandatory.

According to reports, MySejahtera was created by KPISoft Sdn Bhd as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative.

Permission was given by the Cabinet to the MoH to appoint MySJ through a direct negotiation mechanism to take over the MySejahtera application.

However, in December 2021, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recommended that the government take over the operation of MySejahtera at no additional cost as the app has now become an important element in the national health system.

MoH officials who testified before the PAC claimed that MySJ has nothing to do with KPISoft. KPISoft has since changed the company name to Entomo.

MoH Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said in a statement yesterday that MySejahtera is fully owned by the government with the ministry as the main owner of all the data.

“The confidentiality of data is guaranteed and MoH will always ensure that this aspect is not compromised,” he said.

The minister said the application was developed as a CSR by KPISoft, and that the government has agreed for the application service to be continued upon its expiry on March 31, 2021.

“The government’s decision on Nov 21, 2021, also stipulates that MoH set up a Price Negotiation Committee consisting stakeholders’ agencies to perform procurement price negotiations and service management of MySejahtera with the company for a period of two years, in line with government procurement procedures,” said Khairy.

Subsequently on Feb 28, 2022, Khairy said the Finance Ministry in a letter agreed to approve MoH’s application on MySejahtera’s acquisition, to be finalised by the ministry.

“This negotiation process has begun and MoH will ensure due diligence is done to protect government interests,” he explained.

“MoH would like to emphasise that MySejahtera data has been under the supervision of MoH since it was first used. Accordingly, MySejahtera data cannot be shared by MoH with any government agency nor private entity,” he said.

Meanwhile, Klang MP Charles Santiago has called also for the government to stop the sale of the MySejahtera as it could threaten security and democracy.

He said the government must quit making unilateral decisions, be transparent and learn to honour its words.

“It’s all been shrouded in secrecy from the beginning — the relationship between the app developer and the government is unclear. It’s suspicious that the contract was awarded through direct negotiations and not an open tender,” Santiago added.

Source: https://themalaysianreserve.com/2022/03/28/lack-of-transparency-on-mysejahtera-takeover-concerning/

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