The Australian government is about to release an app to help reduce the spread of COVID. The media has had a field day over largely unfounded privacy concerns. The realities are that its an app to help track COVID – not us.
So is this COVID app worth installing? Should you worry about trust concerns?
I have put together a quick summary video of the COVID app and what we know so far.
[Updated] Things to know about the Australian Government COVID app:
It’s not a ‘tracking app’. It is a ‘contact tracing’ app. This means that it doesn’t use GPS to know where you are or what you’re doing.
Once installed, the app harnesses your phone’s Bluetooth signals to look for other phones in your immediate vicinity that also have the app.
The app will determine if you and another person with the app installed are within 1.5 meters of each other for 15 minutes. Then it transmits your unique ID to the other phone (and vice versa) to make a record of the contact in case it’s ever needed.
The unique IDs are stored in a secure area on your phone, are encrypted and can’t be viewed via the app or by looking at the files stored on your phone.
The app will only keep contact information for the last 21 days, and will automatically delete anything later.
If you become COVID positive, you can decide to share your contact history with medical professionals and upload it directly from the app. (You will be given a code by health professionals to make the transfer)
This information is stored on a secure server managed by the Department of Health. The government says that this information will not be available to the police or any other government agency. Legislation for the safekeeping of this information is underway.
Health professionals will re-link the unique IDs to names and mobile numbers and quickly contact the people you have been in contact with to limit the spread of the virus.
The app has been downloaded over 2 million times so far.
While the Government would like 40% or more of us to have the app it remains your choice.
You can access the Government’s COVID information here and its current info app here.