Kirra Pendergast
Kirra Pendergast

Gov’t tracking app risk-free: cyber safety expert

THE government's plan to launch an app which tracks the user's contact with others has been met with reluctance from many Australians, including the government's own Barnaby Joyce, who said he won't be downloading it due to privacy concerns.

The app will trace who mobile phone users have come in proximity to, and if they come down with coronavirus, there will be a record on hand to automate coronavirus contact tracing.

Byron Bay cyber safety expert Kirra Pendergast has assured mobile phone users there is nothing to worry about, and said she would be one of the first to download the app.

"People get freaked out about anything like that when it's the government putting it out there," she said.

"People have been brought up to distrust the government.

"There are a lot of people around here, because we're in anti-5G land, who are particularly freaked out.

"But in Australia, we have some great privacy laws, we are heavily protected by them.

"Under Australian privacy laws, the government cannot sell the information."

The app is being vetted by the Australian Signals Directorate, and would likely rely on Bluetooth technology to determine when two users have been in close contact.

Ms Pendergast, who runs Safe on Social Media said many of us have already surrendered personal data to technology companies.

"The information people are paranoid about releasing is already out there," she said.

"Facebook, Amazon and Google are tracing where you are, they have the rights to do that because you ticked the terms and conditions. They are selling information off to insurance companies about your whereabouts.

"This app won't extract any data from our phones.

"It will say you were at Woollies in Byron Bay at the same time as five other people who came down with COVID-19, so you should trot off and get a test.

"It's a good thing."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has assured Australians downloading the app will be voluntary, but said 40 per cent of us would need to use it for it to work.