Tens of millions of Iranian citizens received a message on Tuesday, March 3, which asked them to install and use a software that claimed to diagnose COVID-19. The message was claimed to come from the Iranian Health Ministry with a link to download the app from an Iranian app store called Café Cazaar.
App to determine COVID-19
The message received by the Iranians read: "Dear compatriots, before going to the hospital or health centre, install and use this software to determine if you or your loved ones have been infected with the coronavirus."
The app could not tell whether a person has Coronavirus or not but what it could do is hoover up huge amounts of data on citizens which would include names, addresses and dates of birth. The app could also track people's location in real-time. It should be noted that the Iran government already has boasted that millions of Iranian people have shared this information with the authority at the time when the most residents of the Middle East country are completely in the dark about the threat from the coronavirus.
App link received by millions of Iranians
It should be mentioned that the app is called AC19. This claims to be able to detect whether or not people are infected by COVID-19. The app also said that "coronavirus anti-virus program is designed by the Ministry of Health to detect the likelihood of people having coronavirus."
After downloading the app, the users asked to verify their phone number. Then the users are prompted to allow the app to send the precise location data to the government's servers. The prompt is displayed in English, not Farsi, which means a vast majority of people would not be able to understand what the app is asking for. As reported by VICE, for around 40 percent of the Android users in Iran who are using an older version, there will be no prompt which means their location details is shared without their consent.
The app claimed to be able to detect if a user has contracted COVID-19 or not and to do this, people have to answer a series of questions regarding symptoms with YES or NO. After answering all the questions a user has to click "submit" to send your details to the government for assessment.
But the surprising fact is they don't have to wait for hours as the users would receive the diagnosis result within seconds. Currently, it is impossible to figure out how many people in Iran has downloaded the app but as per a Tweet by ICT minister MJ Azari Jahromi there are around 3.5 million Iranian who have shared their precise location and intimate details with the government.