COVID-19 contact tracing app needs robust rights protection guarantees

Amnesty International Australia is calling on the Australian Government to ensure seven key principles are followed to safeguard the right to privacy for users of its new contact tracing app.

While many of the steps taken by Australia’s Governments to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have been welcome, the launch today of an app to trace the movement of civilians raises serious concerns about data privacy and surveillance.

“Violating the right to privacy has the potential to undermine the trust in public authorities and in turn the effectiveness of any public health response,” Amnesty International Australia Campaigner Tim O’Connor said.

We recognise we find ourselves in extraordinary circumstances and using technology to help contain the spread of the virus can be very useful, but it must be balanced with our fundamental right to privacy.

Amnesty International Australia campaigner Tim O’Connor.

“We recognise we find ourselves in extraordinary circumstances and using technology to help contain the spread of the virus can be very useful, but it must be balanced with our fundamental right to privacy.

“The Government has given us assurances data collected will not be shared with any agencies other than health authorities, and it must be protected by a sunset clause that the data will be destroyed when the threat of contagion eases,” O’Connor said.

“We are also seeking assurances the data should remain anonymous so that any user cannot be identified.”

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