Pakistani government uses unclear criteria to direct SMS alerts


After Pakistani residents queried whether messages labelled "CoronaALERT" sent out via SMS were legitimate, telecom authorities confirmed that it was authentic, being sent to selected individuals at the request of the Ministry of Health under the Digital Parkistan programme. Individuals were chosen because they might have come in contact with infected individuals during travel or in specific locations. It is not clear, however, what the criteria were for selecting individuals at risk, particularly since in some families only one member was notified. It is also not clear where the data will be stored or what data was being used to identify cases; however, the Punjab chief minister's focal person on digital media tweeted that the government was using call detail records for contact tracing. In Singapore, the TraceTogether app uses Bluetooth signals between phones to help with contact tracing.


Writer: Ramsha Jahangir
Publication: Dawn