Statement on COVIDSafe app – Privacy Amendment (Public Health Contact Information) Bill 2020

When I was first asked whether I would use what is now known as the COVIDSafe app, the app was barely in its infancy. 

It didn’t have a name, and there was scant information available about it. Indeed at the time, the concept was first presented to the public it was suggested that the app would be compulsory. 

My position was that I needed to know a lot more about how the app would operate before I would consider endorsing its use. 

I wanted to be fully informed about its functionality, security and privacy, and exactly how any information harvested by the app would be stored, shared, and used – before making a decision whether I would use it or recommend its use. 

My philosophical approach to government is that government should be smaller and less intrusive. I’m very wary of any proposal that would bring big brother into people’s lives and believe such proposals deserve full and proper scrutiny.

We live in a technologically advanced society which brings many benefits, but it is always incumbent on our leaders to ensure that any app proposed by the Australian Government for use by Australians must improve their safety, be used properly, and not put their privacy and the security of their data at risk – and be secure from foreign state actors.

I raised a series of very detailed questions regarding my concerns about the app with the Government. I’m pleased to see that my concerns have all been addressed in the exposure draft of the Bill underpinning the app, which has now been released.

I encourage everyone to have a look at the Privacy Amendment (Public Health Contact Information) Bill 2020 at https://www.ag.gov.au/RightsAndProtections/Privacy/Documents/exposure-draft-privacy-amendment-public-health-contact-information.pdf

Obviously. the app isn’t the answer to everything, but it’s another very important tool we can all use to help keep us safe from spreading COVID-19, enabling businesses to re-open, and getting people back to work.

I have downloaded the app and I hope you join with me too.