KSA Using COVID-19 Detection Apps to Spy on Its Citizens, Residents
Story Code : 910327
The London-based and Arabic-language Nabaa television news network, citing the unnamed experts, reported that Tawakkalna and Tetamman applications are actually spyware specifically designed to collect real-time geolocation data, monitor the movement of their users, and spy on private communications.
The applications have reportedly been developed by Saudi Arabia’s National Information Center and the Health Ministry, respectively.
Tawakkalna allegedly provides instant and live information about the number of coronavirus infections in the kingdom, and helps in the early detection of possible infections once users show coronavirus symptoms.
Through the application, the users purportedly can also report COVID-19 suspected cases.
Tetamman supposedly aims to reinforce the commitment of all Saudi citizens and residents directed to isolation, and follow up their cases.
A groundbreaking investigation by The Guardian in late March last year revealed numerous Saudi attempts to hack into its citizens' phones during their stays in the United States.
According to The Guardian, Saudi cyber experts were exploiting weaknesses in the global mobile telecom networks to keep monitoring the movements of those citizens, who used Saudi registered phones while abroad.
A whistleblower told the British daily newspaper that the global messaging system suffers several vulnerabilities as a result of “an organized surveillance campaign” by Saudi Arabia.
According to the whistleblower, suspicions were raised when the system received a very high number of location tracking requests, all emerging from Saudi Arabia and related to Saudi citizens traveling through the United States.
Saudi Arabia has stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and conviction of peaceful dissidents and human rights campaigners.
Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.