The Government Covid-19 Contact Tracing Smartphone App

A crowd using smartphones

last updated on May 10th prior to legislation being tabled previously updated on April 26th after the Government launched the app, and April 29th after comments from Stephen Conroy To expedite Covid-19 contact tracing in Australia, the Commonwealth Government has announced a new smartphone application will be in Google and Apple stores within a fortnight. This explainer on the privacy …

Navigating the COVIDSafe app rhetoric

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen the government pull out all the stops in an attempt to convince the Australian public to download the COVIDSafe App. There are plenty of issues with the app itself, including its technical flaws, and valid concerns around data privacy, security and the normalisation of surveillance. But the other fascinating aspect of COVIDSafe has been …

ASIO bill highlights why the government has a problem with public trust

The government sure has asked for a lot of trust from the public recently. Australians have been asked to disregard a long history of overreach, scope creep, data breaches and abuses of power, in favour of a request to take the government on their word about the COVIDSafe App because ‘this time it’s different – we promise!’  And now, on …

Coronavirus and the police state

Some of the laws that have been enacted in recent weeks in response to the coronavirus are unprecedented. It’s now unlawful to do all sorts of everyday things, like venture out in public unless for a specific, government-mandated purpose, in ways that would be astonishing to our past selves just a month ago. This has affected both our individual lives, …

Onus on Government to Earn Public Trust On Tracing App

Phone location

JOINT MEDIA RELEASEDIGITAL RIGHTS WATCHHUMAN RIGHTS LAW CENTRECENTRE FOR RESPONSIBLE TECHNOLOGY An alliance of digital rights groups urged the Morrison Government to fill in obvious gaps in the development of the tracing technology to give it its best chance of winning public trust. Today, the Morrison Government released the COVID-Safe tracing app asking all Australians to download the technology which …

Covid App Data Hosted Overseas is Vulnerable to US Law

Server Farm

Choosing Amazon Web Services to host the covid-19 contact tracing app data risks exposing private information about Australians to US law enforcement, Digital Rights Watch Chair Lizzie O’Shea. “Storing data with an AWS service exposes it to United States legislation which enables American law-enforcement agencies to access data stored on a US company’s servers. This could potentially bypass even the …

Another empty assurance from government can’t restore trust in Covid App

PM Scott Morrison

Attorney-General Christian Porter’s statement that the police will not have access to metadata from the government’s Covid19 contact tracing app is wholly inadequate, Digital Rights Watch chair Lizzie O’Shea said today. “There is huge public distrust in this proposal for good reason. We’ve had years of governments giving themselves extraordinary invasive surveillance powers, disregarding the meagre safeguards those powers came …

Guarantee Limits and Protections on Covid App or it will Fail

Phone location

After years of attacking personal privacy, it is little wonder that the announcement from the Federal Government of a location tracking app has been met with scepticism, Digital Rights Watch chair Lizzie O’Shea said today. “Without robust transparency processes around what data is collected and how it will be used, and unimpeachable guarantees that the data will be used for …

Government Must Come Clean On Phone Surveillance

The federal government must come clean about the nature and extent of its data aggregation from mobile service providers, Digital Rights Watch chair Lizzie O’Shea said today. “It’s deeply troubling that just a week after Prime Minister Scott Morrison outright denied any such activity, we learn that the Federal and NSW governments have received location data from a major telecommunications …

100+ human rights groups demand global governments not use coronavirus pandemic as cover for expanding digital surveillance

A global coalition of 100 human rights and civil liberties organisations have today united to tell world governments not to use the coronavirus pandemic as a cover to usher in digital surveillance. In a joint statement, the signing organisations urge governments to show leadership in tackling the pandemic in a way that ensures any use of digital technologies to track …

Personal privacy must be protected during the coronavirus epidemic

The government must not expand their use of dangerous untested technology during this emergency, digital rights experts have warned today. “We’re already seeing reports from the US and elsewhere that governments are deploying untested and intrusive surveillance technology on their population. We are deeply concerned that government agencies in Australia will try to do the same here under cover of …

An introduction from DRW’s new Chairperson

by Lizzie O’Shea It’s an honour to take over as chair of Digital Rights Watch from Tim Singleton Norton. Tim has set an excellent example. A hard working, deep thinking digital rights activist, he has been a source of energy and good judgement at a time in which there was very little hope for those concerned about our human rights …

Bipartisan contempt for human rights continues to drag Australia into a police state

Digital rights experts have today revealed how continued bipartisan passage of national security legislation through federal parliament has caused a generation-long weakening of Australians’ fundamental human rights. “It’s appalling to see the breadth of legislation that has been passed over the past 20 years, all of which has had a devastating impact on the human rights of everyday Australians,” said …

Clearview AI Data Breach – Another reason for moratorium on the use of facial recognition technologies

The Clearview AI data breach reveals that Australian law enforcement agencies are using the company’s facial recognition tools for identification purposes without any oversight or privacy protections, digital rights experts have warned today.  “We should be deeply concerned that our police forces are using Clearview AI’s facial recognition technologies here in Australia without any accountability or oversight,” said Digital Rights …

Timeline: national security legislation

Australia is on a worrying journey towards an increase in government surveillance, violating basic human rights and invading our everyday privacy. But in order to understand how we got here, we need to look at the sequence of events that have occurred over the past two decades.

Submission to consultation on a new Online Safety Act

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications has been asked to run a public consultation over a new Online Safety Act to improve Australia’s online safety regulatory framework. The proposed reforms follow a 2018 review of online safety legislation which recommended the replacement of the existing framework with a single Online Safety Act. Digital Rights Watch provided our …

PJCIS review of mandatory metadata retention

Pic: Christiaan Colen

Digital Rights Watch, Access Now and the Human Rights Law Centre provided evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security review of the mandatory metadata retention scheme. Alice Drury and Tess McGuire from the Human Rights Law Centre appeared before the committee.Ms Drury : We all want to live in a country in a democracy where we have the freedom …

Breach of trust shows metadata retention scheme must be repealed

Image: Brian Klug

Digital security advocates have expressed outrage at revelations that Australian law enforcement agencies have been potentially abusing mandatory metadata retention laws and receiving data explicitly excluded from the legislation. “It is incredibly worrying to hear that government agencies have been receiving extensive details of Australians’ web history with no oversight or accountability, potentially undermining the already minor protections that were …