An Amnesty International study of 11 Covid-19 contact tracing apps from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa found identified apps from Bahrain, Kuwait and Norway as the most dangerous to users' privacy.

In a news release published on Tuesday, the human rights organization's Security Lab said Bahrain’s ‘BeAware Bahrain’, Kuwait’s ‘Shlonik’ and Norway’s ‘Smittestopp’ apps essentially act as mass surveillance tools by conducting live or near-live tracking of users’ locations via regular uploads of a device's GPS coordinates to a central server. Bluetooth-based proximity scanning is considered a more preferred method of tracking for privacy reasons, the release explains.

Qatar's "EHTERAZ" contact tracing app, the use of which the country made mandatory last May, also has an option to track all or specific users with a GPS-based tracking feature, but this feature has so far remained off, the release noted. Amnesty International warned that authorities in these countries can "easily link" sensitive location information to an individual, because "Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait require users to register with a national ID number, while Norway requires registration with a valid phone number."

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