|Influences||Not under the influence|
|Bio||Recently unemployed social worker|
If you don’t have enough apps on your phone, already gathering heaps of information about you, where you are and what you are doing, then you are in luck. The Federal Coalition-Liberal-National party would like to get in on the game and would like you to install a new sophisticated surveillance system app on your phone, so that they too, can watch your every move, and know who you are associating with, who you are sleeping with and who is a regular visitor to you home.
Introducing new ‘TraceTogether’, developed by the Singapore Government Technology Agency of Singapore, but tweaked for Australian users by the Australian Government Digital Transformation Agency (DTA).
The app uses the Bluetooth Relative Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) readings between devices across time, to approximate the proximity and duration of an encounter between two persons.
It's not an original concept. Duh! Hello? Did you think the Australian Federal government were able to think up their own original ideas? Remember, smoking marijuana in the A.C.T. is legal and half your federal politicians go to work stoned each day.
China, Hong Kong, Russia and Singapore all similar COVID-19 apps. The United Kingdom, Europe and the United States are also developing them.
TraceTogether uses Bluetooth technology to record contact with people, even if you do not know them.
Contact identification records the mobile phone number and a random anonymised user ID. Contact listing includes a record of users who have come into close contact with a confirmed case, and notifies them of next steps such as quarantine immediately, or go to prison.
Proximity and duration information can reveal a great deal about a user’s relative distance, time and duration of contact.
It could be launched in two weeks and officials are hopeful it will accurately reveal people who were in close proximity to someone who later tests positive to coronavirus.
Participate in community-driven contact tracing, protect your loved ones and yourself and help stop the spread of COVID-19.
All Australians are going to be asked to download and use the app. When the government asks you, don’t get paranoid, unless you really are worried that the government will discover where you have been burying those bodies, just be part of the 40% of good citizens who download the app and allow the government to know all your secrets.
Look at the bright side of TraceTogether, it will give the Federal Government a greater health capacity to be able to respond to outbreaks and respond very effectively, but coming to your house, bundling you into the back of the paddywagon, and whisking you off to quarantine in the hospital, because they know, that you were in the same supermarket as a person who later tested positive to COVID-19.
Also don’t worry about the 60% of people who have not downloaded nor are using the app, who may be positive to COVID-19 without knowing it, and may have come in contact with you in the supermarket, that is just bad luck.
Just protect yourself and avoid bad luck by following these few easy steps: don't walk under a ladder, don't continue on a path a black cat has crossed, don't break a mirror, don't step on a crack, don't open an umbrella indoors, don't leave your windows open, don't wear an opal and don't rock an empty rocking chair.
The federal government may even demand all persons owning a black cat, to install a tracking app on the cat's collar, so you can be notified when the path you are walking on has been crossed by a black cat and can make a quick detour.
While many are oblivious or uncaring of the data being amassed about them through every click of the mouse, every notification "liked" or every online purchase, some citizens fear an Orwellian future where state collection of information leads to repression.
And if it's not governments' use of that information that triggers suspicion, there's the omnipresence of tech giants who've become expert at monetising users' data.
Stemming community anxiety about the use and misuse of personal data has never been so important or urgent for the Federal Government.
When you have downloaded the app and it notifies you that someone you've been in contact who is infected, it'll allow you to rapidly access medical assistance to test whether you are infected. It'll allow you to access medical care to manage the infection. It will prevent you from infecting others if you have the virus.
Conspiracy theorists would have us believe that the government wants to achieve mass surveillance — but really, why would the government want that? Regardless, COVID-19 isn't a national-security or police issue, it's a health issue. All those stories you read of people being fined, jailed for not quarantining and the stories in today news about the Tasmanian police using emergency Westpac helicopters to locate people camping in remote locations to give them a fine – that’s just fake news!
While I'm not advocating blindly trusting government or tech firms, I am asking people to remember that 50% of Australians have downloaded and played Pokémon Go and allowed the Japanese government to trace your every step.
So why not let the Australian Federal government get in on the game.
Do Australians trust their data in the hands of the government? The answer might well be “no”, but do we have any other choice?
Or for that matter what about data in the hands of corporations? Time and time again, government and corporates have failed to conduct adequate impact assessments, have been in breach of their own laws, regulations, policies and principles, have systems at scale that have suffered from scope and function creep, and have used data retrospectively in ways that were never intended. But is this the time for technology in the public interest to proliferate through the adoption of emerging technologies?
No one fears “tech for good”. But we must not relax fundamental requirements of privacy, strategies for maintaining anonymity, the encryption of data, and preventing our information from landing in the wrong hands. We need to ask ourselves, can we do better and what provisions are in place to maintain our civil liberties while at the same time remaining secure and safe?