The Iranian government is accused of exploiting coronavirus fears to spy on its citizens.

At the start of the month, the Iranian government sent a mass text encouraging citizens to download an app that would test citizens for the coronavirus after they answered a series of questions, according to Vice.

Of course, no such technology exists and that app allowed government officials to track and surveil citizens who’d entered their personal information.

“Dear compatriots, before going to the hospital or health center, install and use this software to determine if you or your loved ones have been infected with the coronavirus,” the app, said to be from the country’s ministry of health, reportedly said.

Making the plot especially insidious, Iran’s government has tried downplaying the danger COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, poses to its citizens. Johns Hopkins University reports nearly 15,000 Iranians have been infected by the virus, which has killed more than 850 people in the Persian Gulf nation. Vice claims that some medical experts believe Iranian officials are underreporting positive tests and that as many as 2 million people could be infected in Iran.

“The coronavirus won’t affect the country for long & will leave,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Twitter around the time the app was launched.

The government found itself scrambling to explain the app on March 7 when Iranian researcher Nariman Gharib tweeted that the app was a scam perpetrated by Iran’s notoriously nosy leaders, according to Forbes.

According to Gharib, a representative from Iran’s Health Ministry had claimed the AC19 mobile app was developed by the country’s communications department and had not been authorized by health officials. The Health Ministry also condemned the gathering of personal information about Iranian citizens.

Source » nydailynews