The COVIDSafe was launched on Sunday 27 April and already over two million people have downloaded the app in less than four days. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has heralded the app as a vital tool in the nation’s fight against the coronavirus.
“I would liken it to the fact if you want to go outside when the sun is shining, you have to put sunscreen on. This is the same thing,” the prime minister was quoted as saying by the BBC.com.
How does the app work?
- Once you download the app, you will be prompted to add your name (this does not need to be your real name if privacy is a concern), your age, your mobile number and your postal code.
- When you come within 1.5 metres of another user, the app uses wireless Bluetooth technology to exchange a ‘digital handshake’
- The app then logs this handshake and the exchange is encrypted.
- The data is used to notify users if they have come within close contact for 15 or more minutes with another user who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
- When a user is diagnosed with the virus, they can allow their healthcare official to view their encrypted data and use the app to gain the contact details of those they have come into close contact with and who may have been exposed as a result.
The government aims to get at least 10 million Australians using the app, equating to approximately 40% of the population. They are pleased with the uptake thus far with Australian Health Minister, Greg Hunt, telling the Financial Review, “In terms of our distancing measures, Australians continue to do an extraordinary job in what is a difficult situation.”
“People have come together as a single Australian nation, as one single Australian family, and I want to thank them for their continued work,” he said.
Concerns over privacy
Users have expressed concern over how the app data will be stored and shared. The government has stressed that the data will only be accessed by state health officials and that no other body will be granted access under any circumstances.