COVID-19 contact-tracing apps in MENA: A privacy nightmare

In response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, some Middle East and North African (MENA) governments developed contact-tracing technologies to track and prevent the spread of the virus through applications, drones, and robots. While the Tunisian Ministry of Health kicked off a contact-tracing mobile phone app called E7mi and the Saudi Ministry of Health rolled out the Teetamman app which collects health data for those who are in quarantine or self-isolation, the Bahrain government required individuals arriving in the country to self-isolate themselves and to download the BeAware app to notify the government if they leave their dwelling. The ministries of the interior in other MENA countries are also working towards developing and deploying contact-tracing apps. The Qatari Ministry of Interior developed the EHTERAZ app and the Moroccan Ministry of Interior developed the Wiqaytna app for the same purpose. Access Now has raised concerns about the legal and policy measures adopted to protect human rights – particularly privacy, data protection, and access to information – in the development and deployment of these contact-tracing apps.