Australia’s ‘COVIDSafe’ law for a voluntary contact tracing app

Can other countries learn from Australia’s app law? By Professor Graham Greenleaf and Dr. Katharine Kemp, UNSW Australia.

On 12 May 2020, the Privacy Amendment (Public Health Contact Information) Bill 2020 (“the COVIDSafe Bill”)(1) was introduced into the Australian Federal Parliament, and was enacted unamended two days later, without the normal Committee deliberations. Two weeks earlier, on 26 April, Australia’s federal government, in cooperation with state and territory governments, released a coronavirus contact tracing app for public download, marketed as “COVIDSafe”. By the time the Bill reached Parliament, the app had been downloaded an estimated 5.5 million times, by approximately 25% of Australia’s phone-owning population. One month after its release, health officials have found one additional contact through use of the app.(2)

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