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Australia Launches Coronavirus Tracking Phone App

Australia Launches Coronavirus Tracking Phone App

The new COVIDSafe app is part of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s three-pronged COVID-19 plan. One of the things it does is record those you’ve been in close contact with for 15-minutes.

The federal government is trying to allay privacy fears over a controversial new app, to help trace people who come into contact with someone with COVID-19.

COVIDSafe app went live at 6 pm on Sunday and was downloaded more than 10,000 times in the first hour, holding a 3.7 out of five ratings.

The app is based on Singapore’s TraceTogether software, which records the Bluetooth connections a phone makes with others so the user can give that data to state health authorities if they catch the virus.

The government says they hope a broader testing regime and the contact tracing app will lead to a relaxation of the economic shutdown sooner. It’s expected to be launched on Sunday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told ABC radio program, Macca, Australia All Over, that only health authorities would have access to the data.

“It’s another tool we need to get back to normal as much as we can,” he said.

Morrison said the contact numbers picked up by a person’s phone will be downloaded by a health officer when someone gets the coronavirus and gives permission.

“No other government agency can use this information, no one in the commonwealth government at all, and in state authorities, only the health officer can use it,” he said.

“Not the police, not the welfare people, nowhere else. Just the health officer.”

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who has recovered from a bout of COVID-19, says it’s a more effective approach than checking diaries or trying to remember where they had been.

“The beauty of the app is that it can have a handshake, if you like, with people that you’ve been in close proximity with, to find the phone,” he told Sky Sunday Agenda.

He claimed the privacy issues had been dealt with.

“There are absolute protections that are guaranteed around the privacy,” he said.

“All of us have numerous apps on our phones which collect more data than we have here.”

Labor home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said the app could be a great tool, but she wanted people’s personal data to be guaranteed in legislation.

“Australians will only download the app if they have confidence that their privacy will be protected,” she told the ABC’s Insiders program.

“We are encouraging the government to ensure those privacy protections are built into the app, that the app has legislation around it that means that the data cannot be used for any other purpose except contact tracing.

“And that when this crisis is over, that authorities ensure that that data is deleted.”

The Australian and International Pilots Association has backed its use, but with effective privacy safeguards in place.

AIPA President Mark Sedgwick said the aviation industry was in crisis and it was vital that the public recognized that Australia needed to reopen as quickly as possible.

“With the appropriate safeguards, the COVID-19 tracing app will be a key tool in easing non-essential travel restrictions to ensure the survival of the aviation industry and Australia’s economic recovery,” Mr Sedgwick said in a statement.

“The government must ensure the application will be used solely for medical purposes and does not track the location of its users or store any data.”

The government wants at least 40 percent of the population to sign up so officials can do “industrial-scale” contact tracing.

New research from the Australia Institute shows that 45 percent of Australians say they will download and use the mobile app, while 28 percent say they won’t. A further 27 percent were unsure.

Via: Daily Mail

How TraceTogether will work 

PURPOSE

To identify people who may have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 so that they can be advised to take measures to help stop the spread of the disease. 

REGISTRATION 

On downloading the app people will be asked for their:

* Mobile phone number – so they can be contacted if needed for contact tracing.

* Name – so the relevant health officials can confirm they are speaking to the right person.

* Age range – so health officials can prioritise cases for contact tracing.

* Postcode – to make sure health officials from the right state and territory are dealing with the case.

COVIDSAFE IN USE  

The app will record the following contact data:

* The encrypted user ID

* Date and time of the contact

* Bluetooth signal strength of other COVIDSafe users with which they come into contact.

* This will be logged every two hours in the National COVIDSafe data store.

* No location data will be collected at anytime.

* Contact data stored on a device will deleted after 21 days.

* All data stored will be deleted once the pandemic has concluded.

PRIVACY

Personal information collected via COVIDSafe will be handled in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 and the Biosecurity Determination 2020 and actioned by the Health Minister Greg Hunt on April 25.

(Source – Australian Government Department of Health – www.health.gov.au/covidsafe-privacy-policy)

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