COVIDSafe likely to fall short of 40 percent target: iTnews poll

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COVIDSafe likely to fall short of 40 percent target: iTnews poll

But not by much.

Australia’s new COVIDSafe contact tracing app is likely to fall just short of the government’s 40 percent take-up rate target, according to an iTnews poll.

A survey of 1337 iTnews readers over the last two weeks has found that the majority of people (48 percent) are unwilling to download the app, which was released to much fanfare last month.

A further 16 percent of respondents said they would consider downloading the COVIDSafe, leaving 36 percent of people willing to download the app.

The government wants 40 percent of Australians to download the app to ensure that it plays an effective contribution to the contact tracing process by state and territory health officials.

At the time of publication, more than four million Australians - or approximately 16 percent of the population - had downloaded and registered for the app in a week.

While half of these downloads and registrations occurred in the first 24 hours, this figure is still more than three times the government’s conservation prediction for the first five days.

“We had hoped we might get to a million within five days, [but] we were lucky enough as a country to get there in five hours last night,” Hunt said last Monday.

COVIDSafe has been developed by the Digital Transformation Agency and the health department, drawing on code from Singapore’s TraceTogether app.

A series of private sector partners also worked on the app, including Boston Consulting Group, Amazon Web Services and Melbourne-based Shine Solutions Group.

The app works by using Bluetooth to log an encrypted reference code when two people with the app come one-and-a-half metres of one another for 15 minutes or more.

It also records the “date, time and proximity of the contact”, as well as unencrypted information about the phone model and signal strength, as this differs between phones.

The data, as well as information required to register (name, age range, mobile number and postcode), is stored in an encrypted form on a users’ phone for 21 days before being deleted.

If a user is diagnosed with the virus, they can consent to upload the data on those they have come into close contact to the national COVIDSafe data store, which is hosted on AWS.

While the app works in the background on Android, there is still some confusion over whether this is possible on iOS, despite assurances from the health and government services minister.

Apple usually prevents third-party apps from broadcasting and receiving Bluetooth signals in the background on iOS.

The government is expected to release the app’s source code for independent scrutiny sometime in the next two weeks, following sign off from the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

In the interim, a determination under the Biosecurity Act has been issued to restrict data access to health professionals and provide other privacy protections.

The determination makes it illegal to coerce someone into downloading COVIDSafe, meaning that it is not required as a pre-condition for employment or entry to premises.

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