Coronavirus tracking app: life saving idea or invasion of privacy?

Coronavirus tracking app: life saving idea or invasion of privacy?

The government are set to ask Australians to sign up to a new app, reporting if they have come in contact with anyone diagnosed with the coronavirus. Scott Morrison has said the app won’t be mandatory but will require at least 40% participation from the Australian population in order to work effectively.

But how would you feel knowing that you were signed up to have your location tracked through a government-employed phone app? We aren’t quite convinced it’s a good idea.

scott morrison

The location-tracking app was designed after Singapore’s government introduced a similar technology.

Scott Morrison has said that he hopes Australians will embrace the idea so that 40% or more of the population are actively engaged with the ploy. He says this measure may be required to relax the social distancing measures that have been put in place.

“Before we can actually start easing up here, we need to lock in the control that we are currently exercising over this virus, but it can get away, and you need to have the mechanisms in place, the tools in place that can keep on top of it and deal with any outbreaks that come.”

Yet Alice Drury, Senior Lawyer at Australia’s Human Rights Law Centre, has warned that we should be very aware of government-run location tracking in the form of a phone app:

“We don’t want to emerge from this crisis in a country where the Government has the power to trace the movements and contacts of every single one of us, all of the time.”

Alongside the spectacular rise of highly specified digital advertising, privacy has been a growing concern for internet users all over the world. Google has even vowed to abolish third-party cookies – the reason sites know how to advertise to your interests – in response to consumer dialogue.

The idea of an app was developed after Singapore introduced a similar technology in late March called TraceTogether which relies on phone Bluetooth to identify if a user has physically come in contact with someone who has identified that they have the virus.

The Singapore government has been adamant that citizens are using the application, taking the stance that it is essential for the health and safety of everyone.

Or at least, that is how it has been advertised to the public. We’ll let you decide for yourself, take a look at the Singapore campaign video below: