Netizens concern over data privacy on Gerak Malaysia


THE Gerak Malaysia app which designed to facilitate interstate travelling permit application has registered over 300,000 requests within 12 hours of its announcement.

However, users are expressing concern over its lack of efficiency in providing information and data protection and this could lead to the danger of surveillance of citizens.

Twitter user @Nicholas88888 said the application by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) was publicised on April 17 but was denied the next day by Malaysian National Security Council (MKN) and created MySejahtera.

“And today, Gerak Malaysia is required for those intending to travel out of state,” he tweeted.

Andrew on his Twitter account @andrewkjs stated the app has been setting off “red flags” since day one.

“Ten days ago, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) even said it wasn’t approved by the MKN because of its ability to track location.

“But now it’s fine and seems to be on the verge of becoming mandatory to use?” he said.

He added that technological reasoning and evidence to his thread, starting to look at the screenshots being used in the App Store, which showed a prompt to tap “Yes” for users’ consent, which later showed “Please keep this App active at all times”.

The applications allow requests to be filed and a QR code would be generated by the users so that they may review the application on May 1 to confirm their travel destinations, which is later expected to be kept for post-Movement Control Order (MCO) as well.

Many are expressing concerns and confusion over the pop-up message showing the QR code they were given, as well as the lack of clear and concise instructions on the process.

Another user @afbab99 also stated that the application does not only lack a clear description for its users but lacks the option to update information.

“To start, should I fill the address field with my current location or as per my identification card?

“Similarly, are buses operating as usual? What if the case is a stranded family, are they all supposed to apply for the travel permission or just the family head or are they not allowed to travel together?” the user said.

On the other hand, it was also reported that a major complaint is the application being solely in English.

In the technical standpoint, the application offers five reasons for the users to choose for their reasons for travelling including emergency activity, medical treatment, essential activity, essential shopping and interstate travel.

According to the Malaysian Government Call Centre (MyGCC), the application is needed to be used for essential shopping even within 10km from home.

“However, only requests for an interstate travel permit are currently being reviewed and processed at the moment,” it noted.

Users have commented on the confusion that the tweet has brought, whereby travel within 10km should not require any application and how it was not required previously.

Faizal Faiz or @ffhasani noted that the tweet by MyGCC was not consistent with the MCO’s regulations.

“Please erase and coordinate with government officials before making a mistake like this,” he said.

Luqman Lee or @luqlee has also replied to the tweet, tagging Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and the Royal Malaysian Police to clarify.

“I thought we were allowed to travel within 10km to buy essentials without needing a permit?

“Can we please get clarification so there is no confusion?” he said.

Last Saturday, the police have launched the Gerak Malaysia app for people to apply for an interstate travel permit to return to the city or urban areas where they are working. Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Huzir Mohamed said applications are already opened and applicants must update to confirm their travel destinations by April 29.

He said the status of the application can be checked online on May 1 and that the allowed interstate movement period is only for three days, May 1 to May 3.

This was, however, rebutted by Ismail Sabri who later clarified that the interstate travel period (May 1-3) as mentioned by the police remains a mere suggestion.

He said that those looking to travel can submit their applications until May 1 and the government will take a look at the data obtained to decide when to allow for interstate travel.