Monday, 30 March 2020 10:38

Morrison: No anonymous tracking of people to enforce COVID-19 rules Featured

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Scott Morrison: "We have different health systems. We have a federation in Australia. We have different ways of doing things in Australia." Scott Morrison: "We have different health systems. We have a federation in Australia. We have different ways of doing things in Australia." Courtesy YouTube

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the government would not be looking to use location data to track people anonymously in order to find out if they are following the rules which have been put in place to keep the coronavirus pandemic in check within the country.

During a media conference on Sunday, an unnamed journalist asked whether Australia would be following the UK – which has started tracking data to see if the community is following lockdown laws. The journalist added: "Is that something Australia would consider, and what are the other potential implications of that mass of contact and movement data that you would potentially have access to which could help us limit the spread?"

Morrison responded: "Well, the Australian government isn't doing that. What I want to be clear about is the policies and measures that we will put in place for Australia will be right for Australia.

"They will understand how Australia works and how Australia thinks and what our rules are and what our society understands and accepts. Our values. That is what we will do in Australia."

The UK Information Commissioner's Office issued a statement on Saturday, saying that generalised location data trend analysis was being used by the British Government to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, adding, "Where this data is properly anonymised and aggregated, it does not fall under data protection law because no individual is identified. In these circumstances, privacy laws are not breached as long as the appropriate safeguards are in place."

And in the US, there have been reports that the government is utilising location data from millions of mobile phones to track the movements of Americans to see how they may be affecting its spread.

Morrison said Australia would not "cut and paste" measures from other places, where "completely different" societies lived.

"I mean, in China they were welding people's doors shut. That might be okay with them, but what I'm saying... And the UK is a different society to Australia, I would also stress," he told the questioner.

"We have different health systems. We have a federation in Australia. We have different ways of doing things in Australia.

"Now, what I'm saying is if Australians can continue to work together and to comply with the very clear instructions that are being provided for people to self isolate and to do the right thing, and that is how we get through this and we get through it as Australians, remaining true to the principles and values that we hold most dear.

"So the government will seek to be continuing to do that, and we also want to ensure that we have enforcement of the arrangements that are put in place, and those sorts of issues are not matters that are directly before the National Cabinet, but as we go forward, we just want to ensure that people are doing the right thing and people are cooperating with the very reasonable, but the very urgent instructions, that we are providing to them."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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