COVIDSafe app is secure and compliant, says Privacy Commissioner

By Amy Sarcevic
Tuesday, 28 April, 2020

COVIDSafe app is secure and compliant, says Privacy Commissioner

The Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner, Angeline Faulk, has publicly endorsed the use of the federal government’s COVIDSafe app, launched this week.

The app, designed to facilitate contact tracing during COVID-19, has gained controversy of late, with some experts concerned about the potential for data leaks and breaches.

However, Commissioner Faulk said that important safeguards had been put in place to ensure the app protects our personal information, in line with the Biosecurity Act 2015.

This includes the app remaining voluntary, having an agreed timeframe for deletion, and ensuring that data collected via the app can only be used for contact tracing.

She also highlighted and welcomed the recent release of a Privacy Impact Assessment — which both reviews privacy impacts of the technology and makes suggestions for further improvement.

The assessment was commissioned by the Department of Health, in line with the Australian Government Agencies Privacy Code, and has already been accepted by government.

“The Privacy Impact Assessment has provided transparency and accountability for the use of personal information, and supports community confidence in the app,” said Commissioner Falk.

“My office has worked constructively to provide advice and guidance to government as it considered the privacy issues.

“It is positive that the government accepted the recommendations of the assessment and that important legal safeguards are in place”.

To bolster these protection measures, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) will independently oversee data handling by the app and the National COVIDSafe Data Store.

“My office will watch the implementation of the contact tracing app closely. We can audit the system and investigate complaints from the public about privacy issues,” said Commissioner Faulk.

“We will also closely review the legislation that is intended to be introduced and monitor the implementation of the Privacy Impact Assessment recommendations.”

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