Despite strong push-back from political opposition parties, Australia has launched its COVID-19 tracking app as some areas in the country start to ease back restrictions. It follows the same principal app Singapore rolled out earlier in the year using Bluetooth signals to track and log people’s direct contact with COVID-19 cases.
While numbers in Australia and New Zealand continue to decline, Reuters notes that “officials in both two countries continue to worry about the risk of another flareup.”
The government has shared its hope to get at least 40% of the population onto the app in order to make it to effective, they made it clear downloading the app is voluntary, and that it would not track location, ‘protecting” user data.
“It will help us as we seek to return to normal and the Australian way of life,” Hunt said. “No one has access to that, not even yourself … only a state public health official can be given access to that data.”Reuters
While the government is moving forward with the app launch, questions still remain. The app is not based off of the Apple and Google contact tracing, or now called “exposure notification” API. But instead uses own domestic technology, which some civil privacy groups have voiced disapproval with.
Australia joins an already crowded and complex scene of COVID-19 apps in relation to Apple and Google. The EU being stuck in the middle, while France is still on the fence, Germany has stated it will support efforts by the Silicon Valley companies.