COVID-19 Tracking App Mega Discussion Thread

Mega Thread for COVID-19 App discussions (Description Updated 27/4/20)

Please use this thread for any discussions about COVID-19 app discussions, rather than making a new thread. Also see below for other specific/related threads.

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Mod: Original Description:

… for a 'good cause'?

The Federal Government believes restrictions on the community could be eased in the months ahead if there's more testing, greater surveillance of those infected by the coronavirus and much faster tracing of those they've had contact with.

It is developing a mobile phone app with the private sector to help monitor Australians' daily interactions. The app will use the user's GPS to do so.

Edit : This is how the app will work according to the Government Services Minister :

When you download it, you will be reuquired to enter:

  • your name
  • your age range
  • your postcode
  • your phone number

He said when people were within 1.5 metres for 15 minutes, the app via Bluetooth, would record the other person's name and phone number.

"It would stay securely encrypted on your phone," Mr Robert said.
"If I was confirmed positive, my data goes up to a central data store, only to state health officials, no-one else, and then they could rapidly call anyone I had been in close contact with."

Poll Options

  • 148
  • 251
    No. Why?
  • 2


  • +37

    You've played Pokemon GO, now try Coronavirus STAY!

    • +18

      If you've played Pokemon Go you've already had your movements monitored. Same for Google maps really.

      • If you've got a smartphone everything's tracked. Funny how people are fussing about the government when Facebook and Google already have everything.

        • +16

          Google and Facebook are tech companies. It's their job to secure data.
          The government is a bunch of luddites who repeatedly fail at anything remotely tech related.
          Who would you rather hand your data to?

          • +5

            @ssquid: Given the choice, neither…

            It's their job to secure data.

            Someone should tell them that, seems they think it's their job to onsell the data…

          • @ssquid: government tries to use innovative technology to help control the spread of a virus, still called luddites!

            in terms of FB. I disagree it's their job to secure data, it's their job to make a profit, mostly via advertising, using that data. Security of data would be a risk based decision based on the cost of doing so/cost of a leak.

            On the otherhand, for AWS/Azure/GCP it's definitely closer to 'their job' of storing data securely for the clients.

        • +4

          I don’t use Facebook. It is easy to turn off Google tracking and I don’t use Google maps. This Government does not have a reputation for openness and honesty. If people want to download the app I’m happy for them to do so, I won’t be joining them.

          • @try2bhelpful: You're getting tracked by ozbargain though. Hahahaha

            • @TEER3X: Not the same thing though. As I say, more than happy for people to download the app. Go right ahead. As is being rapidly shown, apart from anything else it is causing issues and doesn’t seem to work properly. Limited usefulness even if it does work “as advertised”.

    • -3

      Yes, but the difference is, would you rather have an object of 3cm by 0.5cm inside you for mild pleasure, or something like 9cm by 2cm for extreme pain.

  • +2

    Are we confident that this or any future government will not allow the app to track us after we turn off Location?

    • +4

      cant you delete the app?

      • Sure. But maybe no the information it has already collected.

        • But that wasn’t what you were asking.

  • +4

    yes. i dont know why people are so extremely against things like this that are clearly designed to keep us safe using the things we already have. u are being monitored now and have been monitored for MANY many years, and nothing has happened. no government agency has looked into you and they dont care about u at ALL. unless u commit a very serious crime or they find out your a terrorist or a spy etc. then they will scour through everything they already have on you. y do people always think the government is after them like some schizo? china and google harvest all of our internet activity simply to advertise things to us that we might like to purchase. or they get in trouble for selling our info to another party who also want to advertise to us. dont know y its such a huge deal.

    • +24

      i dont know why people are so extremely against things like this

      You just keep on being a good citizen. You'll find out eventually.

      • +9

        …… whats going to happen?
        where is the board of Illuminati stoking black cats around aboard room table in a secret cave plotting "evil"?
        when are they going to "get me"?
        how will i know they got me??

        • +1

          You'll know when hackers steal the data from the government and post it online.

          • +4

            @ssquid: they already can. cos the government and countless companies already have our info. but they havent. cant be scared of lifes what ifs.

            • +8

              @ego22: If the government already had our location info they wouldn't be proposing this.

              • +11



                They already have it, the telcos track your phone. This just makes things a bit more streamlined.

                Remember the meta-data thing we've all forgotten about? Not only do they know where we are, but what type of porn we like as well.

                And even that started with the "best of intentions" and predicably a little bit later:

                Take note, ego22.

                • +2

                  @D C: Knowing which cell tower you're within a certain radius of is a lot less intrusive than real-time GPS and Bluetooth proximity scans.

          • -1


            You'll know when hackers steal the data from the government and post it online.

            The app stores data (which is a list of pseudorandom ID numbers and timestamps) on your phone.

        • +8

          Here's what will happen:

          You need to be very wary when giving the authorities more power, they like to use them creatively.

          Ever had a leak behind a bush? You are now a sex offender.

          Wear a 'Old Farts Bike Club' t-shirt? The Qld police call that 'wearing club colours' and is illegal under the Qld anti-bikie laws (anti-OzB as well, we love our resident problem solvers).

          Etc etc.

          Yeah yeah, won't happen you.

          Ask Vivian Solon about that.

  • +1

    Don't need an app or GPS, cell tower pings work rather well. Just ask the telcos for the data.

    Just stamp a big "C" on anyone infected and stick an ankle GPS on them.

    The real problem is for every one of those there are probably 9 running around who aren't showing any symptoms, these are the people minding their own business, staying away from others, maybe going for a little walk, sitting on a bench for a while leaving a good dose of germs for the next person…

    Everyone needs to sit on their backsides for a month after the last new case (hey, I'm doing my part) but that's not going to happen. Place your bets for round 2 now.

    • Apparently Vodafone did that already…

    • It's happening at Telstra already trust me…

  • +6

    Location is the single most sought after data because it reveals more than anything else what the person is.

    The private sector, in cooperation with the Government, already has a long history of claiming that non-anonymous data collection is anonymous eg. Google, health.

    Don't be the dum dum that thinks all this works … except in your own case.

    • Welcome back :)

  • +3

    I see both sides of the argument. I understand the argument from a personal freedom and liberty point of view, but I also see it from the public health point of view as well.

    I think the simple solution to this is to have some sort of an opt-in system. For example, if someone has been shown to have COVID-19, then they should have the ability to turn over their location data during the time they were infected so that this sort of data can be publicised and potential hotspots be detected. In general, I do think that the vast majority of people are good and reasonable as long as you treat them so. Most people who get COVID-19 probably don't want others in the community to get it either.

    • -1

      The app will be opt-in, but will require at least 40% of Australians to use it to be effective.

    • +1

      yep, agree.

      if I had covid, I'd be more than happy to pass over my location data, starting from the week before (track potential original infection and transmission).

      in general I don't want to be tracked, but the reality is, with all the apps on our phone, we already are.

    • Your contact history stays on your phone unless you decide you’re okay with uploading it if you get coronavirus. It’s also deleted on a rolling 2 week basis. But you’re exchanging encrypted ephemeral IDs with people and they may choose to upload this data. Then the government knows you came in contact with that person. Of course this is exactly what they require for contact tracing.

    • if someone has been shown to have COVID-19, then they should have the ability to turn over their location data during the time they were infected so that this sort of data can be publicised and potential hotspots be detected

      That's pretty much what the app does (except instead of "locations you were at" it's "other app user IDs you were hanging out with")

  • Just leave your phone at home.

    • +3

      Will probably make you scan it at Woolies..

    • +4

      Completely agree. If you have a mobile they can track you already.

      Civil liberties are, always, a difficult one. The thing to keep in mind is just because you are paranoid it doesn’t mean they aren’t actually out to get you. Not just China, North Korea, Iran are a problem the USA and Israel pays scant attention to International law.

      I, also, have an issue with the number plate recognition car park places. You can put in your number plate to see how much time left or what you owe. That’s a great tool for stalkers or controlling abusers, isn’t it?

      • +1

        I, also, have an issue with the number plate recognition car park places. You can put in your number plate to see how much time left or what you owe. That’s a great tool for stalkers or controlling abusers, isn’t it?

        I think that's a different story because you agree to those terms when you enter a carpark. If you don't agree, then you can simply choose not to park there. In that sense, I don't think it's problematic. Surveillance becomes a problem when it no longer becomes a choice.

        • you agree to those terms when you enter a carpark

          Wasn't that case law principle based on pressing something to indicate acceptance of the terms? Not sure it's been tested in the case of gateless entry.

          It'd also be interesting to know the outcome if something disclaimed in terms (damage to property, loss, injury etc) occurs while you're "leaving immediately if you don't accept"

        • I think that's a different story because you agree to those terms when you enter a carpark. If you don't agree, then you can simply choose not to park there.

          You're in a one-way road with 3 cars behind you. How do you opt-out?

      • If you have a mobile they can track you already.

        No. They can't pinpoint your location using only cell towers. They know your broad location only.

  • +16

    Government are notoriously inept and retarded. Giving them more management authority is going to inherently involve ongoing structural and mismanagememt issues. The government serves us, we do not serve it, we should be tracking our PM they should not be tracking us.

    • +2

      The government runs our health care system, it seems to be doing better than the more privatised system in the US. The government is well placed to provide some services, and not others. The government owning this app, but contracting out the development to private enterprise seems the right call to me. Of course there’s still reporting outraged that the government is using AWS - by far the world leader in cloud offerings - rather than hosting it on government severs.

      • -2

        Meh, you should see some others countries systems. Walk in get treated within 1 hour (irrespective of how critical it is). I admit the US system is quite bad, but our system is bad also.

  • +5

    Install app for the duration of the problem. Problem fixed - remove app - what's the problem?

    • -3

      Have a look at the Chinese app, once you get it on, you can never take it off. And if it isn't 'green' then you pretty much can't go anywhere.

      More info in this vid, can't remember whereabouts but the clip isn't too long.

      • +3

        clip isn't too long

        It is 1 hour long! :facepalm:

  • +24

    No! I only want to give my private movement data to large global multinational corporations. So they can then sell my data to the highest bidder. I don’t want the government having my data, I only want to select a handful of 30 to 40 of my favourite phone apps to track what I’m doing, thank you very much!!!

    • +6

      Lol exactly, only if I get some small personal benefit from it. Helping to contain a pandemic and possibly save lives, f#%! that.

  • +1

    Is the OP referring to this article?

    As for the claims in it…yeah, meh, why is the government 'developing' this app, why don;t they just use the fully functional Chinese one?

    And it's not as if all the other dodgy governments are doing the same thing, right?

    Here's Ireland

    Here's the whole of the E.U.

    And Singapore (where they only got a 20% uptake)

    In Canada and Israel they are forcing telcos to hand over location data instead (so far).

    • +1

      Possibly this one:

      Phones within close proximity exchange details via Bluetooth.

      Technically you don't need GPS, but when the app detects a 'gathering' GPS will be really handy for knowing where to send the cops so they can issue fines.

      I wonder if Woolies still have any tin foil left.

      • +1

        They should have, up until this year us loonies were only a handful, now it seems this whole shamozzle is waking a few more people up AND being stuck at home they have time to look past the nightly 'news' for their information..if they so choose. :)

  • +18

    puts burner phone on a stray dog

  • +11

    I trust the Government even less than the private sector when it comes to protecting my privacy.

    • Why? There are data breeches all the time in private industry, and yes they also occur in governments too. I’d agree that government digital offering are generally slower to roll out, more costly and have worse UX, but this is partially because of typically more rigorous security constrains.

      • +1

        Try logging into mygov if you need centrelink and see how well developed those systems can be

    • why?!

  • +1

    I'm wearing my paranoid hat at the moment but still I can't see the problem, unless you are planning a major crime - murder, armed robbery - in which case having your phone movements tracked would be inconvenient. Then again, maybe don't take your phone with you for murders, armed robberies etc.

    • +2

      If you really don't understand then you need to watch this vid.

      You'll notice how China operates their tracking app and that are not allowed into certain normally public places unless your app shows 'green'. My 'hunch' is that soon this will all be linked to your social credit score (if it isn't already). It's not merely about your every movement being tracked. And where did we get to the point where people IN AUSTRALIA believe it's OK for the government to track there where abouts 24/7? Pretty sure we fought a few wars and lost a lot of good people to protect us from this crap.

      • +1

        I agree with EightImmortals concerns, but disagree with them being applied to the covid app.

        Covid app follows quite good privacy policies. Anonymous IDs, local data storage, etc.

        I am fairly paranoid about these things but I will be installing it once the source code is released and can verify that it matches the build supplied to my phone.

    • Are you kidding? Attitudes like this are how they get away with this crap like this and the metadata retention. It's the boiling frog.

    • +2

      unless you are planning a major crime

      Or riding past one:

  • +1

    Even with my paranoid hat on I don't see any useful comparison between CPC ruled China and Australia. Not even with Dutton as PM.

    • +4

      Give it a couple of years. Though by then Chinese might be running the place anyway. :)

    • +2

      On a total population scale I will agree with you, but there are many ways that a Government can use this stuff to sideline individuals they don’t like. For myself I’m not that concerned, because I’m pretty sure I’m too innocuous for anyone to care.

      Given the paranoia of Trump I would be a tad concerned if I was in America, at the moment; for all their talk of “civil liberties”. That place is descending into hell.

      • +2

        because I’m pretty sure I’m too innocuous for anyone to care.

        If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him. - Cardinal Richelieu.

        I've seen your browser history. Tsk tsk.

        • You made me LoL but I don’t think the Government will be interested in a bunch of cat videos.

          • @try2bhelpful: What a strange coincidence though that just yesterday we were talking about the Palais Royale and today , out of the blue, someone quotes cardinal Richelieu.

            Originally called the Palais-Cardinal, the palace was the personal residence of Cardinal Richelieu.

          • @try2bhelpful: A pussycat grabber eh?

            Oh well, how would you like to be Minister of Womens Affairs then?

            • @D C: I’m female so I tick(le) the first box and is the second comment a proposition?

  • +5

    Hopefully, we can force all journalists and anyone working in the public sector to be carefully monitored. That would enable our protectors to catch any traitors who are foolish enough to leak government agency corruption and crimes. Vive la anti-revolution!

    • +1

      Hangings at dawn!

  • I think they have moved on to facial recognition on big camera networks. I guess this app will fill in the gaps. Brisbane had a city wide surveillance in the main cbd area around 2010. If you did anything illegal, you get a surveillance operator giving you a warning through speakers or announcing cops were called.

  • +3

    They can't even monitor movements of criminals.

    But anyway, no

  • +1

    they already have access to monitor everything a while ago. They're just making official

  • As long as there is an off button controlled by the user/volunteer, it could help. You'd be foolish to trust it though.

    Currently in Japan they have the problem with untraceable contacts for the spread of the illness. So there are individuals who have the illness, and are probably dying in a small apartment (after spreading it) and there is no way to get help or support to them for an indefinite amount of time. If they succumb to illness, that creates a problem. if they overcome the illness, they risk spreading the symptoms still. If people with symptoms can 'phone it in' with minimal stress on the monitoring system (hotlines are overwhelmed) then patients and the vunerable can be protected better.

    Because everyone has mobile phones, an app is easier than making some random device that monitors individuals. This is why an initiative would be helpful. The current system of 'get the 'rona, go to hospital' is not sustainable. Case in point is Italy and now New York.

    I think they need more people working on the solution to this problem.

  • +1

    No, I wouldn't voluntarily give that information to the government. Once you willingly hand over your authority, it's very hard (impossible, I'd say) to wind that back after the crisis is over and it sets a new level of government power that will be used for pretty much whatever they like when it suits them. And if you happen to decide you don't like how the government is using that information down the track, you'll be shit out of luck because "permission" is a very blanket, nebulous thing, especially given the government will have been sure to enshrine in any regulations regarding its use the ability to
    "expand" the application and use of that data at their discretion if they deem it in the country's "best interests" or, the other favourite "National Security" (which could mean anything and they'd tell you but then they'd have to kill you….no wait, they need your data so they won't kill you, but they're definitely not going to tell you…).

    • do you know how the delete button works?

  • +3
    Merged from Covid-19 App. - Will You Download It? (Poll)

    Just wondering what the general consensus of people is concerning the app. Personally I'm happy to download it, I'd like to do my part to help fight the virus in Australia and get life back to normal.

    Personally if I've been in contact with somebody with the virus I'd like to know ASAP so that I don't endanger my immediate family, I think that's worth the temporary privacy invasion.

      • +8

        You mean lefties like Barnaby Joyce,

        • +7

          Barnaby is worried the Chinese find out he is cheating on his wife….again

        • +2

          Barnaby "I"m just working late at the office love".

          Vicki "like hell you are Barnaby, we've been here before".

        • He doesn't want his girlfriend to know he caught rona from his wife.

        • +8

          Perhaps your wife is concerned about what this government could/will do with the data, and how competent it is to protect the data from security breaches.

          • +1

            @GG57: And are we confident that Facebook and Google are acting in our best interests? Serious question, what would be your main concern in the government knowing your whereabouts for a few months?

            • +13


              And are we confident that Facebook and Google are acting in our best interests? Serious question, what would be your main concern in the government knowing your whereabouts for a few months?

              I'd be a hell lot more confident a tech company giant carrying out the data collection is a lot more secure than our clearly very competent government with tech, as they seem to just outsource everything.

              Personally I'd trust Google more than Facebook, they have it in their best interests for their future products to responsibly use the data.

              I'm well aware Google has my GPS location via Google Maps.
              What has Google done with the data? Provide Google Maps, provide a better world where we don't need to follow Apple maps and drive into the sea.

              If you look at business - you only outsource to consultants if you don't have the technical capability in-house..

              Exhibit A: MyGov/Centerlink
              Exhibit B: Census app for voting

              I would be comfortable with using the app only when outside my house, and if caught with the app in-active while outside my house, then fair game. I would only be comfortable with doing this only while this sort of pandemic situation arises

              Once you say Yes to something, it sets a precedent for future laws.

              I sure has hell do NOT trust our government to responsibly spend, I get so angry every time I look at my payslip and wonder where all my income tax goes, apart from Medicare, I do not see the link between my tax money and the betterment of Australian society.
              Exhibit C, Federal MP (Assistant TREASURER) uses $11,000 of Australians' Tax Money for six months of residential internet usage classed as "business expense"
              Exhibit D, Browyn Bishop and her $5000 helicopter ride

              These are the things that were caught, what do you think was not caught?
              We only saw a whiff of smoke. How do you know there's not an inferno of cash burning without our knowledge?

              I'd be happy to pay higher income tax if the government had my trust, but the lack of transparency, and obvious priorities of this government ("Budget Surplus!") shows you where their heart lies.

              Judging a business should not be done by judging on a single metric.

              That's like claiming a business is doing great because of its very low Debt to Equity Ratio, without looking at ANY other metrics (Not looking at revenue, staff turnover, profitability, exposure to market risk, if their business model is sustainable).

              In business, under normal circumstances, **having too much cash on hand means the decision makers were NOT efficient in resource allocation.
              That cash should have a purpose, either to hire more talent, draw down debt (if applicable), project funding, anything that goes towards future income generation and adds value to the business.

              As an analogy, it's like having too much cash parked in a non-interest bearing transaction account.

              Not all debt is bad. By that logic, everyone with a mortgage is deep trouble. Unpaid wages (until employees are paid, which is.. normal) is bad

              A government's priority should be for the betterment of its people.
              Unfortunately, I don't trust our government, unless they can show otherwise… trust is earnt, not given, and I won't be installing the app.

              • +2

                @cwongtech: Move to a regional area and then you can be angry about Medicare too, not much point having free healthcare if you have to wait 4 weeks just to see a GP.

              • +1

                @cwongtech: Have all my upvotes.

              • -1

                @cwongtech: You'd trust facebook or google? it's not in their best interest to have data security, their business is literally selling your data to a bidder.

            • +3

              @Where's_That_Cake: What would be my main concern? (even though I was only being supportive of your wife's view)

              • What this government could/will do with the data
              • how competent it is to protect the data from security breaches

              The essence of the proposal is ok by me.
              But this government, in my opinion, does not present itself as trustworthy or competent in these matters.

            • @Where's_That_Cake: So does anyone FORCE you to have facetwit or google?

              • @EightImmortals: They do not, then again this isn't forced either. If you want to use Google's services that is forced upon you though. I'm not anti Google btw, quite the opposite. My point is we already give away much more info on the daily.

                • @Where's_That_Cake: I can get through my life without google and facetwit. Not sure I can if I am not allowed to move about freely, associate with my friends, work, buy and sell stuff UNLESS I install a government tracking app on my phone. Also while those other things do track us they are not marketed as being for the sole purpose of tracking (even though that's arguable I guess). The government app is purely to track us where ever we go and I object to that totally. (Will probably end up homeless at some point. :) )

    • No, Data will be sold to Incite.

      I'll end up in a crappy job and have no friends. Oh noes. Just realised they already have my data.

      • Thanks for replying with your reasoning (that's what I'm looking for as well as an idea of percentages willing to use it) but I don't understand your meaning.

        Edit/ I get it now after seeing your post edit :p

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