Businessman using mobile smart phone with magnifying glass
Businessman using mobile smart phone with magnifying glass

Technology warning on coronavirus tracking app idea

A JCU professor has suggested the Federal Government should open its new coronavirus tracking app to independent experts, as Australians prepare to weigh up the pros and cons of having their movement monitored.

The Federal Government is preparing to launch a tracing app within the next two weeks that will trace contacts of people infected with the virus in an effort to stop the spread of infection earlier.

Modelled after the Trace Together app used in Singapore, it would be voluntary, opt-in and require at least 40 per cent of Australians to register in order to be effective.

James Cook University professor of e-research Ian Atkinson said people would have to be very careful in making a decision to download the app.

James Cook University director of eResearch Ian Atkinson speaking in the agricultural section of the Future Workforces Summit.
James Cook University director of eResearch Ian Atkinson speaking in the agricultural section of the Future Workforces Summit.

"In normal circumstances, I'd go nowhere near this, but these aren't normal times," he said. "Software like this was used in Singapore to track and trace people due to the availability of the app

"People in Singapore have essentially been happy to give up some of their liberties in exchange for the ability to go about life in a more normal way."

Professor Atkinson said the government would need to offer assurances that the app was secure, and nothing would be left behind after being deleted from the user's phone.

"I'd be a lot happier if the government released the source code, let independent people go across it, ensure there's no security flaw, or that data is being kept for other purposes," he said.

Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said the data would be secured anonymously and shared with only health authorities.

LNP member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch
LNP member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch

"It will certainly assist in ensuring our low transmission rates with fewer restrictions.," he said.

"It's only going to have a limited life for as long as coronavirus is a threat.

"After this is over, everything will need to be relegislated, and once we're able to open up our community again, it will become redundant."

Originally published as Technology warning on coronavirus tracking app idea


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