NZ's tracing app on way as Aussie rolls out its own

More than one million Australians have downloaded the app since its launch last night - though some people have voiced concerns over their privacy, how to ensure the app is working properly, and what the app could mean for their phone's battery life.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt thanked Australians for their actions during the pandemic, and said the app is part of the three key requirements for easing restrictions: Test, Trace and Respond.

Now, despite criticism when it comes to their approach to privacy, the Australian government has rolled out its very own tracing app called COVIDSafe.

Scott Morrison and his ministers have been at pains to emphasise that the data will only be accessible by state and territory health departments, anonymised, and used exclusively for the goal of containing COVID-19.

All information on the app is also deleted after 21 days.

If you use COVIDSafe and are diagnosed with COVID-19, health authorities can use the app to notify other COVIDSafe users whose phones recently detected your code.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told ABC radio program, Macca, Australia All Over, that only health authorities would have access to the data.

The app has been activated under the Biosecurity Act as an interim measure, and while legislation make misusing the data a jailable offence won't be taken to parliament until May, Labor health spokesman Chris Bowen said he had no qualms about using it.

While some questions still remain regarding a state-owned app created to hoover up an individual's data, the government appears to have convinced much of the country of both its necessity and its security.

The app does not need to be connected to the internet continuously.

Like Australia's, the German app will use Bluetooth to alert smartphone users when they have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

Just under half of Australia's population would need to download the program for it to be an effective tool.

Despite the relative straightforwardness of how the app should work, some issues still remain.

"The Covid-19 COVIDSafe app will assist in the contact tracing process, that laborious slow process which, together with the marvellous community response, has been implicitly responsible for reducing the spread of Covid-19 in the community and flattening the curve", Bartone said. Then, once the person agrees and uploads the data, only the relevant state or territory public health officials will have access to information.

Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said the commonwealth would never have access to the data collected. For example, experts could determine whether the app collects any personal user information without consent.

The UK Government has announced the infrastructure was being put in place so that contact tracing could be rolled out on a large scale.

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