Should I download the COVIDSafe app?
The Australian Government developed the COVIDSafe App, a tool to fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) for the public, which it is 100% voluntary to download. The purpose of COVIDSafe App is to assist with authorities to track down people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Almost all countries in the world are dealing with the pandemic – only a few countries embraced the use of tracing technology to assist with authorities for the fight against the COVID-19 which is Australia, Singapore, UK, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany, Israel and Hong Kong.
Health Minister Greg Hunt is pleased to announce that more than 2.5 million people downloaded the coronavirus tracking app in the first 24 hours which he described as “magnificent”.
But like any app or service, it also raises a series of privacy and security questions that had the nation to debate on the mainstream and social media — especially the handling of collected data.
Why do we need the App?
Authorities have 4,000 health officials trained to trace and investigate the infected people’s movement where they have been and who they crossed paths with in order to alert people who may have been exposed to COVID-19. They rely on the people’s memory in order to do tracing work, but it can be tricky especially if people do not have a good memory or accidentally give to a stranger unknowingly such as a recent outbreak occurred at two hospitals in North West Tasmania.
To have an app in our back pocket would provide an additional level for authorities and no efforts required from the public. Authorities would access app data from someone who tests positive and agrees to have their information to be uploaded. They can only use the app information to help alert those who may need to quarantine or get tested.
How does it work?
Downloading the app is voluntary indeed but in order to make the contact-tracing app a success – we need approx 40 per cent of Australians — or 10 million people to sign up and participate.
When you download the App, you would be prompted to provide your name, mobile number, postcode and your age range. You will receive a confirmation SMS text message to complete installation. The system then creates a unique encrypted reference code just for you. Now you can just go about your daily business as the usual. The App will continue to work from the background and might send you reminders to ensure the App is running.
By having COVIDSafe app installed and Bluetooth enabled, the App would recognise another user with COVIDSafe app, it notes the date, time, distance and duration of the contact and the other user’s reference code. The COVIDSafe app does not collect your location.
The information is encrypted and that encrypted identifier is stored securely on your phone. Not even you can access it. The contact information stored in people’s mobiles is deleted on a 21-day rolling cycle. This period takes into account the COVID-19 incubation period, and the time it takes to get tested. For more, see Privacy.
First things first: COVIDSafe does not collect your location.
Health Minister Greg Hunt shared a determination under the Biosecurity Act to protect people’s privacy and restrict access to information from the App.
According to the Department of Health, the State and territory health authorities can access the information for contact tracing only. The only other access will be by the COVIDSafe Administrator to ensure the proper functioning, integrity and security of COVIDSafe, including to delete your registration information at your request. It will be a criminal offence to use any app data in any other way. The COVIDSafe app cannot be used to enforce quarantine or isolation restrictions, or any other laws.
If you still feel uncomfortable to have the App on your phone and wish to delete, then yes you can send a request for the authorities to delete your information as requested.
How to download?
Should we download the COVIDSafe app?
The short answer is YES!
The new COVIDSafe app is completely voluntary of course however the beauty of this app is something YOU can do to protect you, your family and friends and save the lives of other Australians.
The more Australians connect to the COVIDSafe App, the quicker we can find the virus and give confidence to authorities that they would consider easing restrictions on movement sooner than later.
Please stay safe and wash your hands!
Written by The Orginal PC Doctor on 28/4/2020.