Thursday, 21 May 2020 11:37

COVIDSafe data will not come under metadata retention law Featured

COVIDSafe data will not come under metadata retention law Pixabay

The Australian Government will pass legislation this month that will enable the deletion of data collected by the COVIDSafe app from the central collection data once the coronavirus pandemic is declared over in the country.

This is to ensure that the metadata retention act, which was passed in 2015 and requires all metadata to be retained for two years before deletion, does not apply to the COVIDSafe data.

A Health Department spokesperson told iTWire in response to queries that data on an individual's smartphone would be deleted every 21 days.

"The Australian Government’s COVIDSafe app captures Bluetooth handshake data between users of the app, when they are in close proximity to each other," the spokesperson said.

"This information is encrypted and stored on the user's own device for 21 days before it is automatically deleted. This timeframe is continually applied so no data older than 21 days is stored on the device."

Additionally, the spokesperson said, the data could not be released from the phone "unless the user received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and authorised the data to be provided to state and territory health authorities to enable them to use it to supplement their manual contact tracing process".

"The use of the data, for contact tracing processes by state and territory health authorities only, is protected under law and any other use of this information is an offence," the spokesperson added.

"Other agencies, including those in law enforcement, will not be able to access the information unless investigating misuse of that information itself. These provisions will be enshrined in legislation when the Australian Parliament returns in May.

"When the pandemic ends here in Australia, users will be prompted to delete the COVIDSafe App from their phone. This will delete all app information on a person’s phone. The information in the highly secure information storage system will also be destroyed at the end of the pandemic."

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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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