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CovidSafe app

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What is the CovidSafe app and how does it work?

The COVIDSafe mobile app is a Government app that is being used to speed up the current manual tracing process so people can get earlier treatment and diagnosis. It tracks app users and notifies them if they have, or might have, recently come into contact with someone who has the virus.  

When someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, state and territory health officials will ask them, or their parent/guardian, who they have been in contact with. If they have the COVIDSafe app and provide their permission, the encrypted contact information from the app will be uploaded to a highly secure information storage system. If you have the app as well, and have come into contact with this person, you will be notified so you can go and get tested.

Downloading the app is not mandatory but currently two million Australians have already downloaded it because the more people who use it, the faster health officials can find and track the virus.   

Once the app is widely used, the Government can make a more informed decision as to whether it eases current travel and social distancing restrictions. 

For detailed questions and answers about this app, see our COVIDSafe app FAQs

How do I download the app?

You can download and install the app from the Australian Apple App store, Google Play store or the Government’s Covidsafe app page covidsafe.gov.au

When you download the app you:

  1. Provide your name (or pseudonym), mobile number, and postcode and select your age range (see Privacy)
  2. Will receive a confirmation SMS text message to complete the installation
  3. Enter the unique encrypted reference code sent to you
  4. Keep the app open to keep it running on your phone as you go about your daily business
  5. Turn your phone’s Bluetooth on.

How does the app work?

The COVIDSafe app does not collect your location. Your phone recognises other devices (that are Bluetooth enabled) with the COVIDSafe ap. When your app recognises it, it notes the date, time, distance and duration of the contact and the other user’s reference code. If the other person has been exposed to the virus, your app will send you a message to let you know so you can get tested.

What personal data is collected?

CovidSafe collects the following information:

  • the name you provide
  • your age range
  • your phone number
  • your postcode
  • information about your encrypted user ID
  • information about testing positive for coronavirus
  • the ID codes of those you have been in contact with. 

Will my data be safe?

Any data collected is used for the single purpose of notifying people who may have been exposed to Coronavirus. The information is encrypted and that encrypted identifier is stored securely on your phone. Not even you can access it. The contact information stored in people’s phones is deleted on a 21-day rolling cycle.  

Any data which is uploaded from your phone, with your consent, remains encrypted and is held by the Federal Government on an Amazon Web Services server in Australia for 21-days, then it is deleted. 

You can delete the COVIDSafe app from your phone at any time. This will delete all COVIDSafe app information from your phone. For more, see Privacy.

Who can access my information?  

State and territory health officials can only access your app information if you test positive and agree to the information in your phone being uploaded. The health officials can only use the app information to help alert those who may need to self-quarantine or get tested. It is punishable by jail if there is a breach.

No other person can access what’s on your phone. This is prohibited by law. The data cannot leave Australia, it cannot be used for any purpose other than to find people you’ve been in close contact with.

Do I have to download the app? 

Using the app is voluntary. The Prime Minister has said ‘consent is key’ to the use of the app and information is only shared if that person consents to it.

Will Police be able to access the data?

No. Attorney-general Christian Porter said regulations would be developed to ensure that Police and other non-health related government agencies would not be able to access the data.

Sources - The Guardian and Minister Greg Hunt’s newsletter 

When an app user tests positive for COVID-19

State and territory health officials will then:

  • call people to let them, or their parent/guardian, know they may have been exposed to the virus
  • offer advice on next steps, including:
    • what to look out for in the way of symptoms and potential health concerns 
    • when, how and where to get tested
    • what to do to protect friends and family from exposure
  • use the contacts recognised by the app to support their usual contact tracing work

Health officials will not name the person who was infected.

Deleting the COVIDSafe app

You can delete the COVIDSafe app from your phone at any time. This will delete all COVIDSafe app information from your phone. The information in the secure information storage system will not be deleted immediately. It will be destroyed at the end of the pandemic. If you would like your information deleted from the storage system sooner, you can complete our request data deletion form.