June 29, 2022

Volume XII, Number 180

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“This Is a Public Health App, It’s Not a Surveillance App”: Review Finds “Nothing Particularly Disturbing” About the Federal Government’s Coronavirus Tracing App

The Federal Government’s coronavirus tracing app has raised some privacy concerns amongst the Australian public. Even some of our government Ministers have ruled out downloading the app due to such concerns! However, the independent cyber security body tasked with reviewing the app has said that it has found no major concerns with it.

It has been reported that the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre (Centre) was allowed to examine the app’s source code and architecture documents. The Centre’s CEO Rachael Falk noted that there was “not much” that was concerning about the app, and that the data obtained by the app is “not a big data set that’s particularly personal”. This includes a user’s phone number, name, postcode and an age range.

In another statement, Ms Falk emphasised that the data collected by the app will be stored on a user’s handset, unless they tested positive for COVID-19. In such cases, the user will be asked to download the log and send it to a central server where their local health authority could access it and “de-encrypt it”. According to Ms Falk, only health officials will be accessing the data for the purposes of calling users who have come into contact with a confirmed case. Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently confirmed this in a statement, in which he aimed to reassure the Australian public that no Commonwealth agency – including Centrelink and Home Affairs – would have access to user data.

The government needs to take this thinking further to consider whether there are other situations in which the information might be compelled to be released eg by court order in the investigation of a crime?  In civil proceedings as part of the discovery process?  To prove that individuals have been flouting lock-down orders?  Absent any additional statutory prohibitions and protections, once data exists there are a range of processes by which it might be compelled to be produced.  There is an opportunity to restrict this to only the most serious of circumstances if we are to quickly cut through the natural scepticism of security of data.

Copyright 2022 K & L GatesNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 114
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About this Author

Cameron Abbott, Technology, Attorney, Australia, corporate, KL Gates Law Firm
Partner

Mr. Abbott is a corporate lawyer who focuses on technology, telecommunications and broadcasting transactions. He assists corporations and vendors in managing their technology requirements and contracts, particularly large outsourcing and technology procurements issues including licensing terms for SAP and Oracle and major system integration transactions.

Mr. Abbott partners with his clients to ensure market leading solutions are implemented in to their businesses. He concentrates on managing and negotiating complex technology solutions, which...

+61.3.9640.4261
Rob Pulham Corporate Attorney K&L Gates
Special Counsel

Rob Pulham is an experienced corporate advisory and transactional lawyer with an active technology and privacy practice representing companies in the energy, manufacturing, mining, retail, health and financial services sectors, as well as government and not for profit organisations. He has extensive experience advising customers and vendors in the technology industry, with particular focus on software licensing, data privacy and protection, and systems integration projects. In his role as a senior corporate lawyer, Mr. Pulham reviews organisational policies and practices...

61-3-9640-4414
Senior Attorney

Ms. Aggromito is a senior lawyer in the lawyer in the Melbourne commercial technology and sourcing team focusing on IT, privacy and data protection.

+61.3.9205.2027
Rebecca Gill Commercial Technology and Sourcing Lawyer Melbourne K&L Gates
Rebecca

Ms. Gill is a lawyer in our Corporate and Transactional team at the Melbourne office.

Primary Practice

Commercial Technology and Sourcing

Education

  • J.D., Melbourne School of Law University of Melbourne, 2018
  • B.A., University of Melbourne, 2014
  • Certificate I in Vocational Preparation, Australian Employment and Training Solutions, 2014
61.3.9205.2126
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