30 Apr Are you COVID?
Our personal data is already like a carcass at the butcher – chopped up, sold, distributed and cooked. It’s been playing on me a bit in relation to the contact tracing app, Covidsafe, launched this week by the Australian government. Apparently there is no mandate at this stage but it is desirable and, if Australians want restrictions to ease then we should install it now, according to Scott Morrison. In the first 24 hours there were about 2 million downloads.
Obviously there are privacy concerns, ABC news reported that this puts big data in the hands of US corporate monolith, Amazon, who provide no guarantees that data collected is protected from US subpoenas under the CLOUD Act. Although, Health Minister Greg Hunt, has assured us that only health authorities will have access to the data and only if the person tests positive to the virus and they consent to contact tracing. Historical data, beyond 21 days, will be deleted and all data will be erased when the pandemic is over.
How does it work exactly? Let’s imagine you are out on the strip, grocery shopping, you touch surfaces, unfortunately there can be no bluetooth tracing of those small events. You need to have your phone with you at all times and you need to have bluetooth ON. There are benefits to this technological system, interview tracing can be flawed, memories are fluid.
There is no perfect solution and GPS contact tracing has worked in South Korea and China to some extent, the massive uptake has been achieved through coercion, a political strategy Australia won’t adopt, thankfully. COVIDsafe will only work effectively if there is a 40% uptake. Will you download it?
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