Tracking Apps - No Thank You
I have huge concerns regarding this app. The tracing app has been sold by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as an important part of easing restrictions in Australia. However, there are several issues with the implementation of the app.
The disclosure that the information will be held by Amazon's cloud service Amazon Web Services (AWS), the world's largest cloud service, which operates under US law is very concerning. The AWS is subject to a number of invasive US national security legislation, including the CLOUD Act, a 2018 law compelling US-based technology companies to provide data to federal law enforcement under warrant, regardless of whether the data is held in the US or overseas. Whether this applies to Australian data has yet to be tested in court.
The Prime Minister previously said in a press conference that only health workers undertaking contact tracing would legally be able to access the personal information in the app. However,Laws passed 18 months ago under the Crimes Act allow law enforcement agencies the powers to gain access to a suspects phone and metadata through a search warrant. At this time, these laws also apply to information collected by the proposed COVID 19 app.
I think it is a step too far and I don't think we've ever had a moment where anyone is willing to say, 'OK, you can use my phone to identify every person I've been near, and I'm OK with that.
There is also the potential for the app to identify users. As one example that has been put forward, imagine an app user takes a 30-minute walk and sees only one other person. If the user is notified of a proximity event before contacting anyone else and had not come into Bluetooth range contact with others for the past two weeks, the COVID-19-positive individual’s identity may be revealed. The scenario is just one of countless possibilities where a COVID-19 positive user’s identity could be extrapolated.
As for having faith in the government to implement something safe for us is questionable. Just look at the debacle of the previous census. The census website launched and the site immediately got hit by a series of denial of service attacks which took the entire system offline. In fact, it ended up remaining out of use for nearly 48 hours and many problems remained. That system was meant to be secure and private.
I am not alone in my concerns about this app, several experts have warned about the respect and privacy of users. There is a worry that a vector created for collecting data about the population could be used for other purposes in the future. Other countries such as the Netherlands have researchers concerned about privacy risks, they state “The use of tracking-tracing apps and apps for health monitoring is very drastic. Whether we like it or not, these apps will set a precedent for future use of similarly invasive technologies, even after this crisis."
Therefore I will not be downloading the app.