Clarification on LeaveHomeSafe app

May 3, 2022

The Office of the Government Chief Information Officer today made a solemn statement to emphasise that the operation of the LeaveHomeSafe mobile app has never used nor requires any facial recognition function since its launch.


The statement was made in response to a media report claiming that a facial recognition function has been found in the LeaveHomeSafe app.


After following up with the contractor responsible for the app's development and maintenance, the department learned that the contractor adopted a readily available module in the market for the development of the app in order to operate the phone's camera to perform the scanning processes required for the app's operation, including scanning and interpreting the venue QR code, the electronic vaccination QR code and the taxi registration mark.


Apart from this, the module does not perform any other operation.


Upon learning that the module is also bundled with a facial recognition function, the department has requested the contractor to see how the function can be removed without affecting the normal operation of the app so as to alleviate public concerns.


The department stressed that it understands public concerns over privacy and has consulted the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data on every new function added to the LeaveHomeSafe app.


The app has also passed the privacy impact assessment as well as the security risk assessment and audit conducted by independent third parties to ensure its compliance with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.


Moreover, all versions of the LeaveHomeSafe app were subject to the stringent reviews of different app stores to ensure the apps available on the stores complied with the requirements of personal privacy protection.


The department said it will continue to adopt an open and transparent approach and proactively explain to the public the information security and privacy protection aspects of the LeaveHomeSafe app.

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