Over a million Aussies have already downloaded the Federal Government’s COVIDsafe app after being launched at 5:30pm last night.
It’s a step in the right direction, as far as health officials are concerned, with experts citing that Australia would need 40 per cent of its population to download and use the app for it to be a success.
The app seeks to assist states’ health officials undertake the standard contact-tracing that occurs when a person tests positive to COVID-19.
COVIDsafe will use bluetooth to collect information about anyone that comes within 1.5 metres of your phone for more than 15 minutes at a time.
Until now, people testing positive to the virus would be required to call on their memory to try and identify with whom they had had contact over the previous two weeks.
However, some have questioned how secure people’s data is in the hands of a government smartphone app.
AMA President Dr Tony Bartone told Mix 102.3 this morning that people’s location data would stay on their phones unless they are asked to voluntarily upload it following a positive test.
“If you…eventually test positive to COVID-19, that data will then be asked to voluntarily be sent to the Chief Health Officer of your state that you reside in to help notifying people that you’ve come into contact and that you should go and get tested,” Dr Bartone said.
“That data is encrypted, it stays on your phone. If it doesn’t ever get uploaded, it will be deleted after 21 days. And after COVID-19 is good and gone, so will [the app].
“The only data that’s going to be collected is your age range, your postcode, your telephone number and your name, which may even be your pseudonym, if you wish.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has labelled the app as a vital tool in starting to get back to “get back to normal as much as we can.”
Digital rights activists are waiting on the government to release the app’s source code, which should be made public within the next fortnight.