Almost 60 per cent of Australians say they would be uncomfortable if the government was able to track all their movements via their mobile phone, according to a survey conducted ahead of the government’s release of COVID-19 contact tracking technology.
However, 52 per cent say they agree the technology would help limit the spread of coronavirus and 42 per cent believe it would help get rid of physical distancing restrictions.
The essential poll released on April 21 asked respondents how they felt about the TraceTogether app which is being proposed by the Federal Government to trace contacts of people who have tested positive to coronavirus.
Under the proposal, people would opt in to download the app on their smart phone and have their contacts tracked wherever they went.
The government has said the app, which would be based on technology that’s being used in Singapore, would have to have at least a 40 per cent download rate to work.
But although 57 per cent agreed they would be uncomfortable with the government tracking their movements, 38 per cent said they would download the app onto their phone.
*Update: Since the app was released on Sunday the government has revealed that no location data, or data used to track movements, will be collected. The app will only record contact data including encrypted user ID and the date and time of contact.
Data security concerns
Sixty-three per cent said they were concerned about data security, with 36 per cent saying they didn’t trust the government to misuse any data it collected via the app. Thirty-five per cent said they were confident it wouldn’t be misused.
Younger people are more likely to download the app than those over 35, and the 18-34 year old group were more confident about the ability of the app to stop the spread of the disease, according to the poll which was conduction between April 16-19 and includes responses from 1,051 people.
The report also shows 44 per cent of people are concerned about the coronavirus threat in Australia, down from a high of 53 per cent at the end of March.
It also shows more people are concerned about the economic effects of the virus (87 per cent) than their own risk of catching it (64 per cent).
Sixty-three per cent of respondents believe the response to COVID-19 has been “about right” while a quarter believe the threat has been under-estimated and 14 per cent think there’s been an over-reaction.
Sixty-five per cent believe the government’s overall response to the pandemic has been good, compared to 15 per cent who consider it bad.
Half (49 per cent) say it’s too early to consider easing restrictions.
*This story has been updated to include updated information about the COVIDSafe app.
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