MyTrace: Does Malaysia’s contact tracing app track your location?

As the country (and the rest of the world) continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of contact tracing has become increasingly apparent. Previously, the Malaysian government launched MySejahtera, a tracing app that had assessment tools, updates, and the ability to check in with your location and assessment results.

Now, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) has announced yet another contact tracing app: . While the aim is also to help authorities detect and trace cluster infections of COVID-19, the new app is significantly different from MySejahtera.

How does MyTrace work?

According to Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, the MyTrace app will play an important role in close contact tracing especially once the Movement Control Order is loosened or lifted.

tracing is done via Bluetooth technology, where supported mobile devices can help authorities to detect who an infected individual may have come into contact with. According to Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob:

“When mobile phone users with MyTrace are near each other, the Bluetooth waves can detect their presence. Based on the strength of the Bluetooth waves detected, the distance and period of their meeting can be determined.”

This is something similar to what our neighbours to the south, Singapore have done with their own Trace Together app the app notified people if someone they came in close contact with had contracted the coronavirus.

It doesn’t appear that the MyTrace app will do the same thing, although the fundamentals are the same. In fact, Ismail Sabri just like Khairy Jamaluddin before him mentions that the app does not collect location information from its users.

“The data collected will be kept for 21 days in the handphones of users.

“Contact tracing is very important to enable us to know who has gone near a person identified as Covid-19 positive.”

So, is location tracking really not used?

However, it appears that location technology could still be utilised by the app whenever it is on. When using MyTrace for the first time, the app requests for location permissions, while the homepage requires users to turn on both Bluetooth and Location on their devices.


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