COVIDSafe App Safeguards

To coincide with the launch of the COVIDSafe App the Health Minister made a declaration under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth) to introduce a number of interim safeguards around the app and its use.  The Government’s intention is that these will be legislated when Parliament next sits and they have developed draft legislation, the Privacy Amendment (Public Health Contact Information) Bill 2020, to provide ongoing privacy protections. 

Clause 9 of the declaration, and the proposed section 94H of the Privacy Act 1998 (Cth), protect against the coercion of people to use the app.  Specifically –

A person must not require that another person:

                     (a)  download COVIDSafe to a mobile telecommunications device; or

                     (b)  have COVIDSafe in operation on a mobile telecommunications device; or

                     (c)  consent to uploading COVID app data from a mobile telecommunications device to the National COVIDSafe Data Store.

In addition, a person must not:

                     (a)  refuse to enter into, or continue, a contract or arrangement with another person (including a contract of employment); or

                     (b)  take adverse action (within the meaning of the Fair Work Act 2009) against another person; or

                     (c)  refuse to allow another person to enter premises; or

                     (d)  refuse to allow another person to participate in an activity; or

                     (e)  refuse to receive goods or services from another person; or

                      (f)  refuse to provide goods or services to another person;

on the ground that, or on grounds that include the ground that, the other person:

                     (g)  has not downloaded COVIDSafe to a mobile telecommunications device; or

                     (h)  does not have COVIDSafe in operation on a mobile telecommunications device; or

                      (i)  has not consented to uploading COVID app data from a mobile telecommunications device to the National COVIDSafe Data Store.

One implication of this is that schools cannot require staff, students, or parents to download the COVIDSafe App.

A school can strongly encourage your community to download the COVIDSafe app and keep it in operation, however, you cannot direct them to do this or subject them to some disadvantage because they haven’t.

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