COVIDSafe app privacy concerns: Barnaby Joyce wants to test confidence with resignations

PRIVACY CONCERNS: Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said it's his choice whether or not to download the COVIDSafe app. Photo: Peter Hardin 040520PHA091
PRIVACY CONCERNS: Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said it's his choice whether or not to download the COVIDSafe app. Photo: Peter Hardin 040520PHA091

BARNABY Joyce has taken backers of the COVIDsafe app to task, challenging anyone with a "raving endorsement" of the technology to resign if there are privacy breaches.

The former deputy prime minister has been a vocal critic of the government's coronavirus tracking app. He upped the ante on Monday, calling for supporters to put their jobs on the line to guarantee that it's safe.

"I just am not confident in the Bluetooth capacity and I will test other people's confidence," he said.

"... If you give a raving endorsement of it that's your choice and if it does leak, do you now instantly resign your position - whatever that is - because you can't stand behind your warrant?

Read also:

"I bet you will find that all the senior officers in this land will not say, 'I will resign from office if we find out there is a leak' - and there is your answer."

The COVIDSafe app recognises other devices through Bluetooth and notes the date, time, distance and duration of contact to speed up the tracing process for people exposed to coronavirus. It does not collect information on location, but as far as the Member for New England is concerned, it's an infringement on his civil liberties.

The COVIDSafe app is not compulsory to download and deletes encrypted data after 21 days.

Mr Joyce's Nationals colleague Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray have downloaded the app. Despite concerns about privacy, Mr Joyce is still an avid user of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Those platforms collect everything from metadata on the location where a photo was taken to the people, pages, accounts, hashtags and groups a user is connected with and how a user interacts with them plus contact information like address books, call logs and SMS history. Facebook also logs when it has been used as well as information about financial transactions which includes payment information such as a credit card number, billing, shipping and contact details.

When it comes to the app, it's a lack of privacy security that concerns Mr Joyce, who has refused to download the COVIDSafe app as long as it remains voluntary.

"It seems peculiar that I have become the totem for the person who's not using the COVID app, and every media organisation basically in the country are contacting me," he said. "I believe in the liberties of this nation that I have the right to choose to use it, or choose not to use it.

"Unless we get to a nation which says governments can tell you things and whether you like it or not they don't believe in choice.

"That's a different party to the one I joined."

This story Joyce wants to test COVIDSafe app confidence with resignation pledges first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.

Comments