Hate for Australia's COVIDSafe?


There’s been a few times Leo and friends have negatively referenced the Australian COVID app in comparison to the soon to be built in Android/IOS alternatives. The comments are generally short and not much meaningful than saying it’s just bad because of privacy things. I’d like to understand why.

The Aus government have been seemingly open on it and I’ve been recommending others install it based on that, what I understood of the BTLE implementation & the external audits.

I know Leo & friends aren’t idiots so I’d like to understand why this view.

There are a few reasons why I’m not installing the app:

  1. The legislation promised to protect the privacy of the data being centrally collected hasn’t even been raised yet (draft came out yesterday, punishment for improper use is ‘up to five years in prison and a $63000 fine’)
  2. Historically bad track record by the current Government in privacy and security of other private data
  3. Source code not released despite previous advice from the government that it would be (they are still unclear if they intend to at some stage or not)
  4. Because it centrally stores data, it hits iOS data privacy restrictions and therefore flat out doesn’t work in the background on iPhones. iOS has approx 55% market share here in Australia.

Even if you give the benefit of the doubt around privacy and security; in it’s current form it is genuinely useless for over 50% of the active mobile phones out there.

Thank you.

I agree on the source code. I’m pretty sure I heard that was meant to be public but given who said it I’m happy to defer to Hanlon. I’ll accept an external audit though; we do for all public companies.

Regarding the legislation; from what I understood, everything’s kept on the phone until you click the upload button. Given that, it’ll only be an infected person who will submit data to the cloud so, sure, no legislation yet, but the impact seems minimal.

The app gives a sense of doing something useful, while not being actually useful.
(feel free to exchange the word app for politician)

You have to question a data harvesting app by an organisation that does not know what to do with it and cannot control data it collects. Same reason I don’t trust the UK Gov with their app.

Just to follow up for any interested Aussies in here, the legislation was passed and made law yesterday

It’s astonishing how crappy these apps are. There’s so much to unpack here. Govt interests in tracking, legitimate interests in tracking COVID, the limited value of Apple-Google solution, the difficulty of coding, the quick timelines… Having worked in govt, I have to wonder whether shoddy companies offered gov officials more then they could do, or whether the govt ppl demand too much. Motives aside, given the poor quality, how can one trust that data will be safe?

Windows 10, Catalina, iOS: all riddled with bugs, to say nothing of mobile apps. Given that companies can’t these or even airplane and spacecraft software right, perhaps surprised is unwarranted.

I am running it on my iPhone despite the Australian government being less than trustworthy with data.

The type of data collected is not all that intrusive.

I want to help if I can, but the reality is, most of the time it is not working, and when it is, almost nobody else has the app.

So, it is probably a waste of time and battery power.

I don’t know if Leo and Co. have looked too deeply into the App, as Australia is a pretty small target. As Leo said the other week, if Twit gets blocked in Australia, we are too small an audience for anyone in the US to notice.