In the hopes of making everyone safe, Australia has introduced a contact tracing app for the coronavirus called COVIDSafe. Few hours after it was launched, there were already more than a million downloads, according to the BBC report.
The COVIDSafe app notifies the users if they made any contact for more than 15 minutes with a potentially-infected person. If there’s a “digital handshake” that happened with both parties, less than 5 feet away from each other, only then the notification starts.
Reuters reported the said app followed the format of TraceTogether software which originated from Singapore. It stores all the details gathered using Bluetooth. The government emphasized that the app will not compile sensitive information of the users. Any infected patient will have to consent should their data be shared in other platforms.
So far, COVIDSafe has been efficient with its data collection. However, there are some locals who are still doubtful of how the application works and the fact that it is initiated by the government.
Australian government’s guarantee
The Australian government has strongly assured the citizens that the app does not collect information about their location. Some of their personal details such as name, age, mobile number and postcode are what the users have to declare. An alias is allowed if they are not comfortable using their legal names. All the pertinent data they’ve shared will be uploaded once they give consent to do so.
“In terms of privacy, no person can access what’s on their phone, no other person can access what’s on your phone,” Greg Hunt, the Australian Minister for Health, noted.
“It’s up to you whether you then release the information on your app, in which case it’s encoded, and encrypted, and sent to the national data store which is a server here in Australia,” he added.
Every single detail collated from the users is legally stored in Australian servers. Once the disease outbreak is contained, everything will be abolished. The local developers have been diligently decompiling the software and proved that the app is impenetrable. However, they are not taking any chances and pushing on with their investigation.
Singapore’s TraceTogether App
Apart from Australia, Singapore has launched its own contact tracing version the TraceTogether app. In fact, they are the first to use mobile tracking software to assist in managing the virus. Singaporeans have witnessed the efficacy of the app to be impressive since the majority have downloaded it, right after it was launched last March.
The uncertainty of this pandemic made the countries desperately consider all available options, including the use of technology. Apple and Google have collaborated to help governments in pursuing the records of potentially-infected individuals.
With this sudden endorsement, individuals should be prudent when using any contact tracing software and sharing their personal information, to avoid any possible privacy concerns. Luckily, the COVIDSafe app is found to be secured as steel.
Images courtesy of 9 News Australia/YouTube Screenshot