UPDATE (6:41 AM): As it turns out, Gerak Malaysia apparently was not approved by the National Security Council despite having its logo appeared in the app. More details in our report here.
ORIGINAL STORY (8:30 AM):
After MySejahtera and MyTrace, it appears that Malaysian government has developed another mobile app to monitor the population during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and Movement Control Order (MCO). Called Gerak Malaysia, this app was developed by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for Android and iOS devices.
According to its Terms and Conditions document, Gerak Malaysia is designed to help authorities keep track of the Rakyat’s movement throughout the country. The document also stated that the app can be used by those that have authorized travel documents to facilitate their movements during MCO.
At the same time, users can apparently utilize the app to perform emergency requests for food and medicine. The government will also feed information regarding MCO and COVID-19 into Gerak Malaysia app including latest updates, news, and statistics.
In its current state, Gerak Malaysia appears not doing anything much apart from generating a QR code that represent the user. However, it seems that the app is not yet able to do any verification on user’s IC or passport details since it still can generate the QR code using phantom information.
However, I also noticed that the app is linked to user’s phone number. This is because I noticed that once I requested a OTP SMS from a different device, it will also deactivate the app on my original device.
While both Android and iOS version of the Gerak Malaysia asked for permission to utilize user’s geolocation, somehow only the iOS app asked for Bluetooth access. According to the permission request, the iOS app uses Bluetooth as proximity sensor to detect other nearby Gerak Malaysia users.
Meanwhile, there is also an error notice that seems to exist only on the Android version of the app. It comes in the form of a pop-up notification which revealed that the app may be using data APIs from LOTaDATA, an AI and big data company based in San Francisco.
The company has built a real-world knowledge graph specifically for the public sector, researchers, and non-profit organizations to utilize called CityDash AI. As Malaysia is among the nine locations supported by the platform and also the fact that the company has an on-going COVID-19 initiative, this could be the reason why MCMC is using it for the Gerak Malaysia app.
According to a report by SoyaCincau, citing insider sources, the app was apparently developed in three weeks’ time and is currently going through stress test by local telcos. While the purposes of the Gerak Malaysia app are rather appropriate in general, I simply do not see any reason why there is a need for another COVID-19 app from the government.
Frankly speaking, the government should just consolidate all the tasks performed by MySejahtera, Gerak Malaysia, and the upcoming MyTrace into just a single, user-friendly app to avoid confusing the Rakyat. Nevertheless, we still quite eager to see how does Gerak Malaysia app really works once it is ready to be used in the real world.