Covid not so safe – the case for conscientious objection

schrankcartoons - image of a big brother eye looking over a man in a mask

EDIT NOTE 8/5/20 – Yes, this is a long post. We want to provide context for the bigger picture of some data, privacy and surveillance concerns but also outline the many issues with the app. We also want you to listen to voices not platformed in this debate, and explain some of the technical aspects in plain English. Since publishing, this has been viewed 10k and we’ve added some extra links to some improved discourse around the app. Scroll to find areas of interest.

The public discourse around the CovidSafe app has been problematic to say the least. In one corner we have model citizens, people on Team Australia, those willing to act together for the common good. They believe in family values, they’ve been self distancing and they champion the Anzac spirit.

3.5 million of them have installed the app, and today they were asked to encourage their friends to sign up. In the other corner are the tinfoil hat wearers, selfish, hung up on the most trivial of privacy concerns. A mixture of lefty naysayers, and geeks unable to express themselves outside of the language of software programming.

Oh, and they constitute the vast majority of nearly 20 MILLION plus Australians who haven’t downloaded the app. (that’s a lot of tinfoil) *91% of Australians own a smart phone – Deloitt

Funnily enough, in reality almost all these people also believe in family values, working towards a safer community, and have been self distancing and caring for neighbours – some of the strongest dissenters to the app have set up detailed mutual aid networks in fact, which are really inspiring and are building community.

Cartoon asking the government to deal with the privacy concerns around the Covid Safe app

What these people in both camps have in common is they believe they are acting for the common good, and genuinely are in most instances. Some have access to more information than others, some trust the government more than others – aided by favourable comparison to Covid19 responses in other countries, and many are acting in an altruistic manner, specifically for what they see as the greater good.

The differences between some of these folk, who have been vocal, that we can see – range from some life experience and circumstances, some privilege, some information access, and some differences in media consumption.

Most people in Australia have had no access to a detailed analysis or common language English (let alone non English) explanation of the workings of the app and its related infrastructure, or the many concerns and glitches surfacing with the app, beyond hearing a sound-byte or two from a privacy campaigner or IT expert on TV.

Or maybe reading First Dog on the Moon, who as usual explains more about government policy in cartoon form, than most people employed by tax dollars.

We’re hoping to provide some extra context to inform discussion before fights break out (more) all over facebook. Here is an explainer from Digital Rights Watch and we’ve answered some FAQ further below, addressed some critique as well as adding a good collection of links.

Most importantly, we are writing to platform the voices that have been rarely heard in this debate. A debate that Attorney General Christian Porter, believes to be over, despite the fact that there is no privacy legislation enacted.

We’d love to see some more diversity in voices being represented who have concerns about the app. A refugee rights activist noted, “Something I’ve noticed across my FB feed is ‘no way’ posts from Aboriginal people, disabled people, activists who have confronted the state in any way, current and former refugees, and generally people who have experienced, or whose community has experienced, the state acting improperly or with violence.”

Uncle Robbie Thorpe shares some satire on the app
Uncle Robbie Thorpe and some satire on the app

We have seen the same. We are not hearing in mainstream media from people who have experience in dealing with police and the state. We haven’t heard in the public domain that women who have experienced, or may be trying to escape domestic violence have been recommended AGAINST installing the app.

We haven’t heard from communities that are already over-policed, and are most at risk should the government break the social contract (again) and expand useage of the app, update it, or simply build a secret back door to access the data – which they can currently do *legally* – special shout out to ALP on that and every other ‘national security’ focused over-reach they have rubber stamped in true cooperative, bipartisan spirit.

Nyoongar activist and community leader Marianne Headland Mackay said, The coronavirus [app] is about tracking people and our people are targeted enough as it is. I believe they will use the tracking data in a negative way and that there is a likelihood of it being manipulated and abused.”

A collective of women of colour involved in Human Rights and Advocacy released this briefer to instigate some further critical thinking on the app.

One of the co-authors, Dhakshayini Sooriyakumaran, provides further context:

“Surveillance isn’t just about the data collected about us via our smartphones; it is how the state and other institutions of power monitor us, and mediate our access to human rights – we can see this in how marginalised groups are treated within the criminal justice system, by the media, and even as employees. Surveillance is how society determines who is considered to be “other”.

“COVID-19 has not only laid bare, but exacerbated societal disparities in our society. A disproportionate number of people of colour have died from COVID-19 in the US and Britain. In Australia immigration detention and prison populations are being abandoned with few prospects of release. Indigenous peoples and migrants in Australia are being disproportionately targeted for public health order compliance fines.

Covidsafe is yet another step towards a future of invasive digital surveillance that has already arrived in countries like China, Iran,​ Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, the US and UK. Other countries deploying contract tracing apps could be pairing it with data collected via CCTV footage, drones, thermal imaging, telecoms accounts, bank card records, and facial recognition technology.

“Australians need to consider that their decision to download Covidsafe is not just about them. It is about the future that we are heading towards, and the marginalised groups who will be most impacted by mass state surveillance.”

Disabled folks have also made strong cases against it, and certainly 1000’s of people who have in any way experienced state over-reach – recent, or long term political activists – aren’t going anywhere near it.

Anna Johnston, principal at Salinger Privacy gives a clear eyed overview of some of the privacy concerns and technical aspects (even whilst ultimately making the case for individual action based on risk assessment – an approach we reject);

“Some people face higher privacy and safety risks in their everyday lives than many other people. Systems and products should be designed to protect those who are most vulnerable to privacy harm.  These include victims of family violence, celebrity stalking and other physical threats; serving members of the judiciary, law enforcement and defence forces; political activists, journalists and whistle-blowers…”

EDIT 8/5 The Federal government met and determined a staged “re-open” of the economy today, despite prior insisting they could not do so until 40% take up of the app, despite app being currently unoperational. We’d remind people that despite pressure from employer groups and others, that it’s currently reflected in the legislative determination that it will be unlawful to ‘coerce’ people for employment or access reason (more)

Just as Covid19 has in many ways brought to the surface our current ineqalities, we are seeing the potential for policing and surveillance of over police and already marginalised communities playing out in many ways.

Arundhati Roy writes beautifully as ever, “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

Many wealthier suburbs have been hotspots of Covid19, yet inexplicably any data released by police authorities shows a majority of infringements being handed out in poorer areas, with larger groups of Aboriginal people, and migrants. We have seen large scale flouting of physical distancing in wealthy beachside suburbs, with different rules for footballers and rich people, whilst an Aboriginal elder is arrested whilst trying to draw attention to access issues for basic supplies, whilst another man was fined for sleeping rough and locked up – having already lost a family member to a death in custody.

So, it must feel somewhat frustrating for some Aboriginal community members, refugees, Muslims, people of colour, and others to see the support for the CovidSafe app (and painting of dissenters as selfish) characterised by mainly wealthy professionals, Ministers and Health advocates, and predominatly white male, professionals from the privacy and crypto community – whilst concerns for their community are not even considered, let alone platformed, or taken seriously.

These same people who are used to being platformed, and embedded “listen to me, for I am a serious person” credibility in their professions are the ones who will say, when reading this, if they bother, what has this got to do with a government app? Many of us would say, quite a lot actually. So lets talk app.


  • You give more information to Facebook and Google so why worry? (more commonly expressed as: you idiot, you are writing this on facebook)
An insult to people concerned about the Covid Safe App privacy issues
Please check #CovidSafe on twitter for more creative insults

Yes, we do, as the CovidSafe app currently stands. In fact, the hard work by civil liberties and privacy groups has ensured a level of scrutiny that has resulted in the government adopting what a digital privacy consultant said was, “the best privacy policy I’ve ever seen from government.” That does not mean there are not significant concerns remaining. And that does not mean the governments track record does not give huge cause for concern. Many people hold the position – the app is not the issue, it’s what the government might do later.

There are also a few significant differences:

  • Google and Facebook never got clear consent to track us to this extent when we opened accounts years ago. The level of “surveillance capitalism” or data tracking and profiling from huge corporations is extremely problematic. Wordy privacy policies in legalese are not the answer. A blow torch of transparency and accountability is. We only know about the extent of their over-reach through the hard work of people who have sought to expose this, step by step, vastly out-resourced by the tech giants.

    If you do want to minimise corporate tracking and surveillance capitalism, we have gathered some resources here.
  • If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.
    With all due respect, this is a furphy. Everyone has information they don’t share with the world. Unless you would be happy to have the full extent of all private correspondence made public, you have something to hide – or as others might say – a reasonable expectation of privacy. These arguments were well aired during the metadata debate (further explained below).

    In the example of metadata (which is basically data about other data, like phone calls, emails) the government might not know the content of your conversations – but could make an educated guess of your situation if there was a record of regular phone calls to someone who wasn’t your partner, calls to a motel, calls to a sexual health clinic and calls to relationship counselling. This might be something you’d like to keep private. Or perhaps calls to a certain list of people on the eve of a leadership coup, say.

    (Also, we’d like the government to be open about their source code if this is their attitude)
  • Facebook don’t have guns
    Whilst corporate over-reach definitely needs to be addressed, these are private companies you can at least partly opt out of, with some difficulty. The issue is not now, but the future when/if there is an adaptation of the app, they broaden the scope, or secretly access the data as they can currently lawfully do. Facebook don’t have the powers of police to raid journalists and rifle undies drawers.

As this some have pointed out – this is a new type of tracking that we haven’t thought through all the ramifications of. Given the data reveals the make/model of your mobile phone and holds this data for 21 days, this could actually reveal significant information about who you communicate with, for how long, and if cross referenced with other information accessible via google, could paint a very detailed picture. Could this lead to raids? Further, more intrusive surveillance?

There are also issues being raised as to the efficacy of contract tracing via app, and how much it will genuinely assist the skilled personalised efforts from a team of people. Concerns about false positives, potential for many missed interactions, a false sense of security, and technical problems – not to mention that statistically in times of low infection, with less than 30% population take up, in a diffused population, including the likelihoof of app glitches, it is appearing more and more to be a very unreliable addition to skilled professionals

* Coronavirus contact tracing apps were meant to save us. They won’t. (Wired)


There is a long list of failure of all things digital with the current Liberal government. Both in basic competence and oversight, as well as acts of institutional cruelty like Robodebt.

A quote commonly misattributed to Albert Einstein as follows – “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

This is very much the case with this government. There is no project relying on digital technology that has been reliable, effective and ethical. Whilst all manner of insults have been flung at people who have dared to make the case against the app in public realms, there is very much an argument that we are the rational ones. The best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour.

Bernard Keane discusses the fundamental issue at the heart of many conscientious objectors to the app – that the app itself isn’t the main reason for concern –  after unpacking a litany of issues explaining fundamental mistrust of government, and which we have made previous reference to, including My Health Record and Census Fail

“Given this, no amount of safeguards around government access to the information — and those safeguards won’t be legislated for weeks anyway — would be sufficient to guarantee that this government’s instincts to abuse its power would be curbed.”

As it stands – TOLA (the Assistance and Access Act) that was passed in 2018 with full bipartisan support requires any company directed by government to break encryption (if maths allows) or enable “back door” access. So unless they specifically legislate to over-ride this legislation, any privacy assurances are worthless.

Basically, unless it is explictly articulated in the privacy legislation when Parliament resumes, THEY CAN ACCESS THE DATA ANYWAY.

Another one of the most common fears is what people call “mission creep” or “scope creep”. The Metadata laws are the most recent and blatant example of that. They were introduced in 2015 ostensibly for national security reasons to be used by a small amount of law enforcement. Five years later and our personal data that can expose significant aspects of our lives is accessible by over 100 government and non government agencies. We touched on this and other key concerns prior to app release in a much briefer piece.

So when Robodebt mastermind, Minister Stuart Roberts says the app “simply digitises a manual process” some would say we are right to be sceptical. We have no reason not to be, based on past performance.


Less than two months ago, senior bureaucrats were being accused by the deputy chair of the parliament’s national security committee, Labor MP Anthony Byrne, of having a “cavalier disregard” for the handling of Australians’ personal data.The Guardian

The government launched the app without legislation enacted to deal with privacy concerns, and their Privacy Impact Assessment went live the same weekend – offering no window for community engagement or feedback, a point noted by the consultants who also warned about “function creep”.

Now the app is live and three and half million people have now bought into the Government’s “Team Australia” advertising campaign (as of 1/5), that states misleadingly “with your privacy protected by law” there is less pressure for them to take advice on amendments.

Government Service Minister Robert also said this, “The source code will [also] be made public so every university, every tech company, any conspiracist can pull apart the code and see that we’re only collecting exactly what we say we’re collecting.

“Everyone has the opportunity to either review the code themselves if they’re that way inclined, or any number of universities or research houses will pull it apart and that’ll be made available, probably upon their websites and I hope they do.“So there’ll be absolutely an utterly transparent [process].”

The app has now been live for a week, and the source code may be made available subject to future changes of mind in two weeks. Legislation to deal with privacy concerns will also happen in May.

After deconstructing the code, there are concerns that remain. They are also detailed well in the Saturday paper, and include – issues with blue tooth, centralised storage and issues with older phones and Iphone operating system. Many believe that moving to a decentralised model, as being currently developed elsewhere, would address the privacy concerns, though not potential government over-reach.

Technology Safety recommended AGAINST downloading the app for survivors of family violence, and notes concerns here.


Robert said the Government is also banking on everyone having a capable device. “Everyone’s got a phone – over 90 percent of Australians,” he said.

  • People who have set up a Google store account in another country can-not download the app
  • Older phones can-not download the app
    COVIDSafe uptake in Tasmania limited by out-of-date phones (6/5)
  • Telstra users in regional areas (generally considered to have the best regional networks) can not access the SMS registration if they aren’t in range (Other services enable wifi to send messages)
  • Currently the 54 percent of the population with an iPhone will need to ensure the app is open – or open when the phone is locked – to log contacts. Using other apps may affect the app from working. Consider this scenario – a high risk essential worker – a delivery driver – could be using google maps to get around, plus may have an app on the phone to get signatures. Whilst these are brief contacts, if they came across someone who sneezed on them, who later was Covid positive, they wouldn’t know – their app may not have picked it up.
  • Blue tooth which people use to connect to headphones or music, could over-ride and cease the apps functioning.
  • Importantly – Diabetes Australia just put out a warning about the app potentially messing with important health monitoring tools


As we flagged earlier there has been a rather cynical attempt to guilt Australians into accepting the app. Apparently it will allow us to go back to school, back to shopping, back to the beach, back to the pub, back to our way of life, back to the footy, and it may possibly even bake us Anzac cookies in an Australian flag bikini.

Not only is this displaying a lack of awareness for how many people in our society have phones new enough for the app to work on, but when the rest of the rhetoric has been about how “we are all in this together” (except for people on dsp, casuals, international students and a million others), and even political differences have been put aside for an apparently well functioning National Cabinet, when we’ve all been looking out for each other, it feels quite jarring.

“Australia wants to get back to work, back to school, back to shopping, back to sporting events and back to an unrestricted life as soon and as safely as possible. The COVID-19 app is just one of the many scientific innovations Team Australia can employ to lift social distancing restrictions sooner rather than later”. – The Age (despite the jingoism, there is also a decent explanation of the tech)

Robert again is quoted “It will allow us to get back to the footy quicker. It will allow us to get back to work quicker.”

Morrison is also quoted as saying “to help our health workers, to protect our community and help get our economy going again”.

Post from Sunrise: Scomo tries to bribe the AUstralian public into downloading the app

Morrison has also noted that they want to increase take up among young people, so he is hitting them in the feels.

Its a false binary, as was noted today by Australian Privacy Foundation chair David Vaile, who is concerned the government is pitching the app as a choice between safety and privacy, “It is a more manipulative, rather than a straightforward, approach,” he tells The Saturday Paper.

There should be no correlation in take up of the app, and opening up of restaurants, and pubs. This should be a decision made on concrete health data – such as increase in mass testing, the excellent idea of randomised testing of at risk groups, such as FIFOs, the number of tests conducted to check for asymptomatic people in the community, plus the current rates of infection and community transmission. They are the numbers that should count.

But as we can see, large sectors of the hospitality industry, and many other sectors, have been brought on board to spruik the correlation.


We have a population of 25 million and as of writing 6700 cases, with only 900 active. All international flights are quarantined. Diligent professional contact tracers have brought us down to this low level of cases without other data input. (yay for these folk, and sorry we can’t support this app)

The speed in which the app went from tentative public announcement to full roll out, shows up in the poor design flaws already revealed. Some folks have pondered whether the delay of release of open source code is because they are still busy sorting out glitches.

Certainly it seems like #ScottyFromMarketing was more excited about marketing the idea of the CovidSafe app, than getting the app right. He got in early with inextricably linking the app’s framing and take up with an ability to open up the economy several days before the announcement of the app.

“We are on the way back to a COVID-safe economy,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

“We are building the protections for this COVID-safe economy.”

They launched the app last Sunday, three days after this headline.

Whilst the government has sent mixed messages – from “any number of downloads will help” to needing 40% – there is also industry advice from across the world that 50-70% is likely needed for efficacy. Singapores 20% take up was considered inadequate.

Given that 54% of current phone users are using Apple and the app doesn’t work properly on Iphone, looks like the government has made itself a problem. No one following their track record is surprised.

On top of this, there are things like people getting a heart palpitating notice advising them they have the virus by accidentally clicking a button (to upload data), to forgetting about the logistics of a multicultural population who may have set up Google accounts in other countries.

As we noted above, current experience shows that older versions of Iphone don’t accept the app, and older phones in general, without strong battery life are struggling. And there is just the the small issue of 50% of phone users with Iphones being able to only run the app when its in the foreground, rendering their phones either unusable for other functionality, or the app not working for large periods of time.


We also have the somewhat inappropriate and uninformed assessments being offered by doctors championing the app – and pulling the good citizen/bad citizen card. We tend to prefer experts on human rights, privacy and digital security talk about their expert fields – and we’re happy to continue to accept medical advice from doctors instead of programmers.

“As a doctor…” has been said more than once on twitter, followed by prescriptions on issues they are completely uninformed on.

Norman Swan endorses the app
Not keen to trade geeks giving medical advice with doctors giving advice on areas unskilled in.

And then we see such sweet irony as the peoples champion Professor “what time does dan murphy’s open” Doherty, who was spruiking the app, yet couldn’t figure out how to download onto his phone cos he has an older model phone and doesn’t understand this stuff.

As of the 30th April – Lockdown restrictions have already been relaxed in many states in varying ways – completely unrelated to the app. Further announcements are likely soon, without any meaningful data input from the app. In addition New Zealand has made great progress, also without an app thus far.

There is one absolutely baffling aspect to this debate. Everyone takes the government at their word when they say It will enable social distancing restrictions to be eased.

There is genuinely very little reason to believe this to be the case. In a population of 25 million with dispersed and relatively small populations in key capital cities – honestly what are the chances you necessarily come across someone who later develops the virus – unless there is a massive stage two breakouts. (which is entirely likely, but the app problems remain)

PEOPLE DON’T KNOW WHAT THE APP ACTUALLY DOES – Hint: it doesn’t keep you safe from getting Covid

There are widespread misunderstandings with the apps functionality, with the deliberately misleading name of CovidSafe, ironically enough, in no way facilitating you to be safe from developing Covid. It simply allows a faster timeframe in which you might become aware and minimise spread to others, if someone you’ve been in contact with registers positive.

Many have already reported talking to people who believe they will get a literal alarm when people affected might be near by. If they know they have Covid – they should be at home or in hospital quarantining. And if they don’t know, neither do you – until later, depending on app, glitches, bluetooth failure, battery life, or feeling sick.

There are also likely issues with a false sense of safety, and we have no idea if there will be issues with false positives, the inaccuracy of data, the potential for complete overwhelm for contact tracers or other glitches.


If you aren’t a computer expert, you might not understand a lot of the detail currently flung around by geeks. But a very important part of this discussion doesn’t seem to have translated into public discourse. Not just who the app could impact if abused, and the centralised data used for profiling people. But the how of the app.

Geeks have already done a great job reverse engineering the app (links below), and using the base of the Tracetogether app – the one used in Singapore which ours is based on, we have a relatively good idea what’s under the hood. The big unknown is what happens to the data if you say YES to the uploading of it.

This is why geeks are asking not just for the app source code to be released, but the entire “substack” – essentially all the other stuff – what happens to the data when uploaded.

The other question is who has access to the data. When registering the app you give a postcode. That is what determines which State Health department gets your data. And they get ALL your data as revealed by Saturday paper (linked above). Every phone that downloaded the app that you came into contact with. That could tell a lot about you. And we don’t know how many people in each different state agencies will see that, because they haven’t explained that. Although this is a different situation, and unlikely to be this bad – the very poorly designed “My Health Record” gave partial data access to 100s of 1000s of people. So this is another unknown. Is it possible, as with My Health Record – that our personal data could be stored on other unsecure computers? We literally don’t know.

UPDATE: (2/5/20) Apparently neither does the government. A week after being rushed out the data is unavailable to State health departments. To be clear; As of 4/5/20 as the government has sent a text message reminding people to download the app, it is NOT OPERATIONAL.

And the initial storage location is also an issue – Numerous people have already expressed concern that the data is being centrally stored in Australia on Amazon owned servers. Amazon is a US company, and as such are subject to US law. People have issues with the CLOUD act, and the capability of aspects of the Patriot Act, which could mean US authorities could gain access to the data.

SURVEILLANCE – does it really happen?

Yes it does. There is a long, documented history in Australia and other countries, going back decades. Peaceful protesters and those who dissent have been targeted at a variety of levels, without any demonstrated record of threat or risk of violence. What role did shoddy surveillance play in the horrifying example of Dr Haneef? At CounterAct we rarely talk about surveillance, other than in direct training and meetings with activists, as people can be sceptical. But yes, it does happen. We will add more here. Send us pictures of your best tin foil hats.

It is also a matter of public record, thanks to Edward Snowden, that agreements between foreign governments, such as the Five Eyes agreement allow nation states to circumvent their own legislation about spying on citizens. Yes. We went there. Because this is a reality for activists, whistleblowers and people working against government and corporate interests.


You should do what you feel is best, but what we’d ask you to do is consider conscientious objection, say NO to COVIDSAFE in solidarity with communities who may be subject to greater profiling than yourself.

Think of it as a sort of inverted version of herd immunity. Talking about herd immunity is often how digital security folks talk about encryption and why we use it. The MORE people who use encryption, the harder it is to pinpoint those using it who are at risk, and the more expensive it becomes for government and companies to target you. Also, privacy is good.

THE MORE people who conscientiously object to an app that is not working particularly well, and likely not to be particularly helpful in relation to health outcomes – the safer the people are who could be at risk of being targeted.

Just as government are advising for people to get the app to keep their family and social networks safe – you too might like to consider not downloading it to keep your family and social networks safe. Or, think bigger and consider people you don’t know. Most privacy experts making recommendations are suggesting the app itself is relatively innocuous and downloading it should be fine unless you are high risk for some reason.

As with most community organising and activism, we’d suggest a collective, rather than an individual approach. We have strength and safety in numbers. Most people arguing about this say, what’s the worst that could happen to me. Most of them have not experienced state violence, unlawful arrest, surveillance and repression. We have, and we work to support others all over the country who have. Instead ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen to Muslim and Aboriginal activists; and climate activists if our trust and privacy is breached.

Normalising voluntary surveillance would be a huge coup for this government. They have 100% proven they can not be trusted with digital projects and privacy issues. Bringing a large chunk of the population on board with giving away this information without a fight, will make it so much easier the next time they want information on us. As late capitalism crumbles and our planet reaches a point of inescapable climate disruption, again we will be making decisions out of fear, when building community is the answer.

The normalisation of intrusion into our lives is not a minor concern for people at risk of over policing and government surveillance. Rather than assisting the government by obediently handing over data via an app that doesn’t work properly anyway, perhaps we should consider the human rights, digital privacy and ethical considerations of this app – and listen to people with skin in the game.

Initially those of us with concerns of the app were arguing that there wouldn’t be take up at the critical mass required. As the debate has evolved and data has come in about trust in government, there is actually a fair reason to suspect they could reach their target. Put simply – trust in the Federal government couldn’t be higher. Certainly feels strange after the bushfires, but thanks to community leading the way – we’ve done really quite well, the envy of other countries.

We have escaped the much worse fate being experienced by any other western democracies and people are grateful. This is in no small part to our society and community stepping up to the plate – with many people self isolating before formally directed, and state premiers pushing the PM into a corner where he was forced to take action.

But as their true colours start to shine through again – with corporate handouts, making life difficult for low income tenants, and dismantling of Industrial Relations protections – we are right to question the motives of the Morrison government. And in this example, the net result of this means that trust is being placed, where it has no logical home – in the hands of Morrison, Dutton, Robodebt Robert and a government with a horrific track record of digital incompetence and privacy breaches.

We’d ask you to remember this Government’s track record in considering whether to download the app. We have to fight for the new normal we want to see, and that requires dissent and a robust, and diverse civil society, with grassroots and community activists leading from the ground up. Lets not put more barriers in their way.

Here is a reminder: “Australians need to consider that their decision to download Covidsafe is not just about them. It is about the future that we are heading towards, and the marginalised groups who will be most impacted by mass state surveillance.”



Can it track my location?

No, not at this time. It doesn’t use location services or your GPS, it uses Bluetooth. This means your phone talks to other phones nearby and sends signals back and forth. If you have been in the vicinity of someone else for more than 15 minute it records the signature of that phone, and this data is kept for 21 days. You have to keep Bluetooth open for the app to work (and this is an issue for some people, regarding battery drain and with Iphone)

Additional resources:



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