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Police have arrested five people suspected of using a fake LeaveHomeSafe app at Immigration Tower in Wan Chai to flout a new rule mandating the COVID-19 contact tracing app at government premises.

According to an RTHK source, the five included two immigration officers and a member of staff at the Audit Commission.

Monday marked the first day of a new rule requiring the use of the contact tracing app upon entry at all government premises, including court buildings, wet markets and libraries.

The rule sparked backlash from social service groups, which pointed out that many senior citizens who are homeless—and who often visit government facilities such as clinics, health centers and welfare offices—do not have smartphones.

Exemptions will be made for those under 12 and over 65, and others who have difficulty using the app, the government said. Instead, they will be required to leave personal information including their names and identity card details.

The five suspects, among them four men and a woman, are held on suspicion of using false documents. Under Hong Kong law, the offence of possessing a false instrument is punishable by up to 14 years of imprisonment.

The LeaveHomeSafe app was introduced in November last year as part of the government’s COVID-19 contact tracing efforts. Despite the authorities’ reassurances that the app does not pose any security risks, some members of the public have raised concerns about data privacy.

It’s not the first time that police have made arrests over the use of a fake LeaveHomeSafe app. Just over the weekend, a 34-year-old woman was apprehended after entering a bar in Wan Chai using a fraudulent version of the app.

Read more: ‘LeaveHomeSafe users only’: Italian restaurant group under fire for only seating customers with gov’t COVID-19 app

This article, 5 people, including civil servants, arrested over fake LeaveHomeSafe app, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.


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