Sometime in the next couple of weeks, Australians all will be deciding whether they want to download the COVID-19 tracking app or not.
So, some background.
From what I understand, all the app will do is use Bluetooth to record the phone number of anyone you get close to who is also using the app. And by “close to” they mean closer than 1.5 metres for more than 15 minutes.
If someone is infected with coronavirus, authorities then use the phone numbers collected by the app to undertake contact tracing. The numbers are encrypted until you give health authorities permission to read the numbers on your phone, something that will only happen if you test positive for COVID-19. No geolocation data is collected. All information collected is deleted after 21 days.
Doesn’t seem that scary on face-value.
But just in case, here are five questions I’ll be asking myself before I decide to download the app.
1. Does it worry me that any app collects data about me?
Let’s face it; most of the apps we have on our phones collect data about us. Apple apps, Google Apps, Fitbit apps, whatever-apps; they already collect more information than the COVID-19 tracking app will. So I’m already happy to let lots of entities access my data. And gawd-knows what they do with it. (Make money with it; that’s what they dooz!)
So, my initial gut reaction is that I have no problem with the app collecting a small amount of data about me, especially if it’s just my name, age, and phone number.
Which brings me to…
2. What would they do with my data anyway?
So, the only data health authorities will ever learn about you are your name, age, and your phone number. Not your location, or credit card number, or Tinder hits. If you pay tax or have registered with Centrelink at some point, there’s a pretty good chance the Government already has this information.
And health authorities will only use the information collected by the app to call you and let you know that you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and that you should be tested and self-isolate. They won’t be selling you life-insurance or trying to scam you out of money.
I don’t know about you, but apart from my wife, I haven’t been closer than 2 metres with anyone for more than 30 seconds since the lockdown began. I honestly don’t think the app is going to collect any data from me because of all the social distancing I’ve been practising.
And even if it did, it’ll just be a list of phone numbers, most probably (at least in my case) from a bunch of complete strangers.
I honestly don’t care about sharing that kind of data with the Government.
Unless the Government is lying, of course…
3. But why would the Government lie to me about the COVID-19 Tracking App?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. Fake moon landing? Yeah-Nah. Alien abductions? Unlikely. Deep State? Pfft! Secret ScoMo Hillsong anti-Atheist data targeting? Don’t make me laugh.
I’m not going to go there.
Seriously. Everyone has more important things to worry about at the moment, especially health authorities and Governments. It just doesn’t make sense that they would use such a lame app for their nefarious post-pandemic dystopian schemes.
But what if I’m still feeling uncomfortable?
4. Are my political biases showing?
I come from a family of Labor-voting true believers. And sure, I voted indie at the last election, but that was to help get rid of Tony Abbott; a strategic vote that worked. But I would never ever ever vote Lib!
And let’s face it; I don’t trust ScoMo and the Libs on taxation or industrial relations or the environment or climate change or most things.
But I have to admit that, for the most part, the Federal Government has been doing a reasonable job at containing the pandemic in Australia, as have the State Governments whether they be Liberal or Labor.
So, even though my default position is not to trust ScoMo, I haven’t seen any actions from him or his ministers during this pandemic that they have anything less than the people of Australia’s best interests at heart. (OK – except allowing people to access their super; that’s kind of recklessly stupid.)
But then again, Barnaby Joyce has stated quite categorically that he’ll never use the app. And I never listen to Barnaby. That’s another reason why I should download the app! Unless this is some kind of Government reverse-psychology trick.
Oh, now my head really hurts!
Maybe it all boils down to one final question…
5. Will the app help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus?
Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on how many people actually download it, I guess. But anything that can speed up the tracking and isolation of COVOD-19 clusters is a good thing. Especially if it means our lockdown restrictions can be reduced.
Plus, if for some reason I contract the virus, I want to make sure that I haven’t been the start of a cluster. And I certainly don’t want to be the person who spreads the virus to someone who then dies from it. I don’t think I could live with that guilt. I’ll do everything and anything to prevent that from happening.`
So, I see no reason why I shouldn’t download the COVID-19 Tracking App. I mean, it can’t hurt. And anyway, if I change my mind, I can always delete it!