Does COVID Alert PA app share personal info?


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — More than 181,000 people have downloaded the COVID Alert PA app, but in a state of nearly 13 million people it looks like most are opting out.

The PA Department of Health says the app does not share a users identiity or location, but some are skeptical.

“I think people are always concerned about apps on their phone and what the apps have access too and they should be. A healthy dose of suspicion is good,” said John Sancenito.

Sancenito is the president of INA, a Harrisburg based security consulting firm. He invited the abc27 Investigators into the INA forensic lab to take a closer look at the COVID Alert PA app and how it works.

His team is using both an android and apple device for the test.

“Those phones were wiped and the operating system reinstalled. That will give us a baseline on how the phones are operating,” said Sancenito.

The COVID Alert PA app was then downloaded on both devices.

According to the PA Department of Health, the COVID Alert PA app uses bluetooth technology to alert you if you have been in close proximity with another app user who has tested positive for COVID-19. Sancenito says those who use the app are assigned a code to protect their identity.

“If the app actually works as it says it is supposed to there should be no user identity that ever leaves the device itself. It is going to be completely anonymous and ideally the phone does not track your exact location it only tracks who you are in close proximity too. We are going to put that to the test,” said Sancenito.

With the app downloaded on the phones his team will carry them around for two weeks and then take them back to the lab.

“We are going to do a forensic analysis to see what did the app access and what did the device actually do. Does it perform as it says it performs?,” said Sancenito.

The abc27 Investigators will have a follow up report with the results in two weeks.

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