Using bluetooth, the app will be able to identify which users are near other users – it notes down the anonymous ID of any app users who are within 1.5 metres of each other for more than 15 minutes. If a user tests positive to coronavirus, they will then be asked to send that data off to the central government database so any contacts can be traced.
“There’s not much there that is concerning,” Ms Falk said. “If it’s not shared with anyone other than local health authorities and it’s being shared in a way that’s transparent with the public, I personally will download [it].”
“I’m confident with the type of data that’s being taken. It’s not a big data set that’s particularly personal,” she said.
The app will record your phone number, name, postcode and an age range, according to Government Services Minister Stuart Robert.
It is designed to supplement the existing contact tracing regime, which relies on interviewing coronavirus patients in hopes they can recall where they had been recently and who they had been with. The government has ruled out making the app compulsory, and has said law enforcement agencies will not be able to access the information.
“It would help for example if I’m standing in a supermarket queue and someone behind me happens to have a positive test later,” Ms Falk said. “This will help track and trace really quickly.”
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth urged Australians to download the tracing app on Monday, saying it would be “the icing on the cake” for Australia’s “very well-oiled” contact tracing regime.
The Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre, which the federal government has committed $50 million to, has scrutinised the app alongside the Australian Cyber Security Centre and the Australian Signals Directorate.
The centre was allowed to examine the app’s source code and architecture documents to complete its report, but was not told which companies helped develop the app.
It will hand its review to the government by Tuesday.
Max is a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.