Beaches app declared safe

in News · 22-05-2020 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

A new app to help beach users to find out how crowded their local beach in Portugal is has been launched amid controversy regarding data protection.

Following criticism from the digital rights association D3, the Portuguese Environment Agency says that information regarding excessive permissions was from a test version of the new Info Praia app.
According to the Portuguese online newspaper Observador, the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) says that the Info Praia app is completely safe for users.
“All information collected, [about] location and favourite beaches, is stored exclusively on the user’s device and no personal information is transmitted to third parties or the APA”, says this entity in response to criticisms made by the association for Digital Rights D3.
The same entity adds that “the application does not require a user registration, thus it does not collect any personal data”. The only permission that is requested from the user, at the time of installation, is the location, for the purpose of the proximity and indication of route directions via Google Maps”, says the APA.
Observador mentions that the Portuguese Environment Agency, as the entity responsible for the Info Praia application, takes its users’ right to privacy seriously. “The Info Praia app is made available with the commitment to ensure the quality of service and navigation in safety and in absolute respect for the protection of the privacy of its users.”
In a statement sent to Observador, D3 stated that the Info Praia app, “did not have its code open and available, asked for excessive permissions, and did not even provide a privacy policy”.
At issue, was mainly information that was on the Google Play (or Play Store) page. In this platform for downloading applications, when accessed through the browser, it was said that in order to work in some versions of the app, authorisations were considered as access to the microphone or to the user’s photos or phone information.
The APA responded to the questions sent by Observador, clarifying that “the versions that were made available to the public” did not request these accesses. “It is clarified further, avoiding any doubts that still existed, that the Beta version [trial version] was removed, which was not available to the general public, as can be confirmed in the Play Store.”
The Info Praia app was mentioned by the Prime Minister, António Costa, during the presentation of the rules for attending the beaches during the upcoming bathing season as one of the solutions for control. According to the executive, the Info Praia app provides updated information continuously and in real time, being one of the measures implemented to consult the traffic light system on the beaches remotely.
In less than a day, the application made it on the list of the most installed in iOS application download stores, the App Store (Apple), and Google Play, Android.
The Info Praia app was launched in 2019. Initially, the goal was to allow quick consultation on beaches and bathing water quality. The APA informs that the information provided by the Portuguese Environment Agency is complemented by the daily weather forecast data provided by the service of the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere, IP.
Beaches will reopen on June 6 and the public is being encouraged to download the app to see if their beach of choice is full or still has space.
The new rules at beaches include requiring groups to stay 1.5 metres apart, deck-chairs only being booked for the morning or afternoon, and beach sports of two people or more are not be allowed.
The Prime Minister stated that police would not be enforcing these rules, but asked people to adhere to measures by themselves.


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