As Shopping malls in Thailand reopened on Sunday shoppers were required to download a government mobile app to collect visitor records. The Thai Chana mobile app to their mobile phones for check-in and check-out at shops.
Customers would use their mobile phone to scan QR codes as they enter and leave shops and the premises.
The government mobile app was created to allegedly collect and record shoppers movements, inside shops throughout the shopping malls. The Government mobile App also provides details such as opening hours and visitor limits among others. Shop merchants in the Shopping mall are also required to register with the Thai Chana App.
Government Mobile App to facilitate disease-control tracking of shoppers
“The ‘Thai Chana’ application will tell customers if their targeted shop, such as a barber, is still vacant enough to welcome them,” Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration said.
“Shopping centres will use the application when they open their rest areas. In addition to their already opened supermarkets and electrical appliance sales.” Dr Taweesilp said the Thai Chana app would serve 70-80% of people based on the number of mobile phone users. Who account for 70-80% of Thailand’s population.
“Young children and elderly people who do not use mobile phones will be able to use manual registration,” he said.
The app would facilitate the government’s attempts to quickly track people infected with Covid-19. Also those in close contact with them. Its effectiveness would lead to the further reopening of businesses and activities, he said.
He also said that customers’ privacy would be protected. Only the Disease Control Department would have access to customers’ information. Saying the customers data was only for the sake of disease control.
“With this system, a call will go out only to the mobile phones of customers who visited the shop at the same time as the infected person. Some critics question the App and the governments use of peoples personal data.
Government Mobile Apps Poses Human Rights Risks to Shoppers
Mobile tracking apps governments are using in the fight against Covid-19 pose serious risks to human rights, Human Rights Watch said.
“Some restrictions on people’s rights may be justifiable during a public health emergency. But people are being asked to sacrifice their privacy and turn over personal data for use by untested technologies,” said Deborah Brown, senior digital rights researcher at Human Rights Watch
“Containing the pandemic and reopening society are essential goals. However the government can do this without pervasive surveillance” Brown said.
Human Rights Watch warned that governments and the private sector should not promote or use unproven and untested technology. The long history of emergency measures shows that when surveillance is introduced, it usually goes too far. It also fails to meet its objectives, and once approved, often outlasts its justification.
Meanwhile, the Tracking app registration also caused long line at some shopping malls, including Siam Paragon in Bangkok. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration said on Sunday more than 26,000 shops, most of them in Bangkok, had registered with Thai Chana App.
The Centre also said people were checking in with the app every minute.
Shops that were popular on the first reopening day included Ikea at Megabangna. Which on Sunday afternoon stopped admitting new visitors as the number reached the reduced capacity. Other malls were less crowded.
Source: Bangkok Post, Human Rights Watch