Most ‘uncomfortable’ about being tracked

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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6 thoughts on “Most ‘uncomfortable’ about being tracked

  1. Factually incorrect – your article states that the app tracks peoples movements wherever they went. This gives the false impression that the app is actually tracking locations and can identify where people have been.

    This is BS, all the app does is identify if your phone has been in the vicinity of another user who has been identified as having contracted Covid19. The authorities can then contact the person to advise they get tested. The data held does not identify locations at all.

    1. Comment would be correct if the Singapore TraceTogether code was used (anomymised, open source, data available to participants). Australian code “improved”.

  2. What matters here is that the Government have already proven to not be upfront with the public about this data collection. It’s no all about the app and the data on phones, it also about the way it’s merged and held centrally and accessed. The merged data is then embellished with other information. So while the app indeed is relatively secure and phone info you provide is combined in a central store that the Government is not being open about. Today it has been revealed that this combined case data is now being stored on servers in the US and that the single encryption key is also stored on the same US system.
    This is in stark contrast to statements that the data will only reside on each State or Territories systems and only health staff will access it. the FBI can own and do what it likes with this data on US servers.

    I will not use this app until the Government puts all the data on sovereign soil, agree to have multiple encryption keys that must be used simultaneously to open the data and at least one of those keys rests with a trusted ethical body outside the Government. In addition people who access the central case data will need to be all be under strict governance rules that the public can interrogate under FOI.

  3. I have had more than 50 years of professional experience in software development and am really protective of my privacy. Having said that, as part of my civic duty I was fully prepared t compromise and load and use the app if the source code was available as was mentioned earlier. With recent developments, I am now no longer willing to do that.

    I find it abhorrent that the government has contracted to Amazon for the storage of information. Amazon, in my opinion is a totally untrusted company when it comes to end user data. Amazon has an abhorrent record of dealing with the Corona virus in its own establishment having knowingly put its workers at risk. It is very far from a model employer. Thirdly, a government which mouth so much about wanting to support local industries and employers goes overseas for a contract that could be fulfilled easily by a number of Australian cloud providers in Australia!
    I will encourage all that I now to refrain from using the app, until the decision to use Amazon is reversed. If Amazon is the model, I can see what kind of business environment the Prime Minister will attempt to impose on Australia post Covid. Of course, it could simply be a ploy to curry favor with Trump.

  4. I was genuinely willing to make an exception to my default concerns about personal data-mining by government and download the tracing app onto my phone in the wider public interest. This is true, I swear it. I defended it on the grounds that it seemed like a sensible community-spirited thing to do.
    I had to defend this position to family and friends who could not believe I was persuaded to believe the hollow assurances from Morrison, Dutton et al, of the narrowly-focused and limited purpose of the application and protection of private information.
    Then I learned yesterday that the data would be stored by Amazon.
    No thanks. No more. Not even it you make it mandatory.
    Can you really be so deeply, deeply, DUMB!?

  5. Silly to think anyone’s Government is interested in your travels or interactions ,
    You would only be really worried if you’re being shady.
    Try using a Transperth Bus Card.
    Any improvement is a bonus. USE THE APPS

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