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Have doubts about UAE's new Covid-tracing app? Here's why it is safe, private

Web Report
Filed on May 22, 2020

The government clarified doubts over its privacy concerns and stated the AlHosn app uses an encrypted Secure Tracing Identifier.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention launched AlHosn UAE, an app for contact tracing and health testing related to Covid-19. The app will identify health authorities people who have been in close proximity to those infected.

Urging people to download the app, the government  clarified doubts over its privacy concerns and stated the AlHosn app uses an encrypted Secure Tracing Identifier (STI). 

Hence, your personal details are anonymized when the app communicates with other phones. The health authorities will only need to access the contact data list of an individual who is infected, stated the Dubai Media Office in an official tweet.

How AlHosn app protects personal data? 

The encrypted Secure Tracing Identifier (STI) consists of anonymised data and a timestamp. The anonymised STI is stored in encrypted form temporarily for 3 weeks on the phone. So, when an individual is known to be infected, they will be requested by the health authority to share the stored STI list on their phone. This list will provide the authorities with accurate information to reach out to possibly infected people and have them tested.

The AlHosn app can be downloaded at the Apple App store, Google Play, Galaxy or Huawei Huawei AppGallery stores.

All you need to know the app

What is AlHosn?

AlHosn is the official UAE app for contact tracing and health testing related to Covid-19, launched by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA).

The app helps trace people who have been in close proximity to confirmed Covid-19 cases to prevent the spread of the virus. It also provides residents with access to their test results and a health colour coding system that identifies and allows individuals that are free from Covid-19 disease to access public spaces.

How does AlHosn use contact tracing to protect us?

AlHosn uses an encrypted Secure Tracing Identifier (STI) that is exchanged locally on devices of individuals in proximity of one another. The STI consists of anonymized data and a timestamp. The anonymized STI is stored in encrypted form temporarily for 3 weeks on the phone.

When an individual is known to be infected, they will be requested by the health authority to share the stored STI list on their phone. This list will provide the authorities with accurate information to reach out to possibly infected people and have them tested - this is the most effective way to stop the spread of the virus.

How to instal the app?

> AlHosn can be downloaded at the Apple App store, Google Play, Galaxy or Huawei Huawei AppGallery stores.

> Select your language - available in Arabic, English and Hindi

> Authenticate by entering your Emirates ID and phone number followed by the OTP sent to your phone

> Turn on Bluetooth and push notifications on your smartphone

Benefits of AlHosn

> No Internet required: The app uses Bluetooth to pick up signals from nearby mobile phones that also have the app installed and does not require data

> Prove you are Covid-negative: It can help prove you are Covid-negative in a reliable way when you apply to flight journey, access to malls and shops

> Get your test results faster: Receive your Covid-19 test results faster and directly on phone

> A guide to your health condition: Every user will have a QR code which indicates a guide to his/her health condition.

> Trace your contacts: The app also has a feature where you can know whether you have been in contact with anyone who tested positive for Covid-19

> Protect our community: AlHosn makes it faster to complete contact tracing on a national level so we can all get back to our normal lives. When most people use it, we will be able to control the spread of Covid-19

Colour-coding for your health

The AlHosn health coding system involves the generation of a unique personal QR code and a colour-coding system that determines the status of your health. The colours represent the following:

Grey: Indicates you have not been tested.

Green: Indicates you have been tested and you are healthy, this grants you access to public places.

Amber: Indicates that you need to be tested or retested due to possible exposure to Covid-19.

Red: Indicates your most recent test have shown that you are infected and must seek the advice of the health care authority.


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