COVIDSafe App

28 Apr 2020

Background and how the app works

The COVIDSafe app helps find close contacts of COVID-19 cases, and is built for and run by the Australian Government. It is completely voluntary to download and use.

When you download and open the app for the first time, you will need to register with your name, postcode, age range and phone number. You can install the app from here:

apple-badge.png   google-play-badge.png

Once registered, using Bluetooth only, the app keeps a record of people you have been physically nearby (recording time, date, duration and approximate distance). It is important to note that the app does not record location data.

For the app to be effective, you should always have your phone with you; and always have the app running on your phone. If someone you were near for an extended period becomes infected, state/territory health officials will contact you based on the information from the phone of the COVID-19 case patient. Government officials will then guide you through what you need to do. Please find more information here: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covidsafe-app 

Privacy and protection of data

There are obvious privacy concerns from an application like this. The app has however been vetted by multiple software agencies and third party organisations – and appears to do exactly as described with minimal privacy implications.

Information collected by the COVIDSafe app is encrypted and stored on the device itself, and only accessible when a COVID-19 case has been identified that you have been in contact with for an extended period (or vice versa). Data on your mobile device is deleted every 21 days, and contact data is only uploaded by you from your phone to the COVIDSafe servers on request only (and only if you agree with it).

Overall privacy - and those looking to access the data generated by this app - is protected by new federal laws; which even a court order cannot bypass. Only state and territory health authorities, for the purpose of contact tracing, can access or use the data.

When the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us – you will be prompted to delete the application from your phone (and you can do so at any time), and data will be deleted from applicable servers as well. However, you can also request your data be deleted from the COVIDSafe servers at any time (including registration information) from here: https://covidsafe-form.service.gov.au/

Will I download the app?

Yes, and I have encouraged our BlueReef team to do so as well because it will help businesses get back to work faster, and it will help control the spread of COVID-19.

There are (I think) enough safeguards in place for a software I would not normally ever use, to be justified in an uncertain time. The benefits do outweigh the privacy implications the app may have.

covidsafe app  CoividSafe Mobile App

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