The Minister for Health has determined the end of the COVIDSafe data period effective from 16 August 2022. All COVIDSafe app data has now been completely deleted from the National COVIDSafe Data Store.
The COVIDSafe app was launched in late April 2020 to aid state and territory health officials in identifying and tracking people who may have been exposed to COVID-19. It became common practice to scan into grocery stores, restaurants, and nearly all venues via the app to monitor potential exposure sites. The app relied on Bluetooth technology to ping proximity alerts, known as a “digital handshake”, to other nearby users. If an individual tested positive for COVID-19, the COVIDSafe app would then upload their digital handshake information for use in contact tracing. This was always a voluntary process that required permission from the user to upload this data.
Legislation was passed to support the operation of the app and ensure user privacy, particularly in terms of location tracking. However, as COVID-19 eventually came under control, the Minister for Health made a determination in July 2022 under s 94Y of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) to end the COVIDSafe data period of the COVIDSafe app. The data period ended on 16 August 2022. After this data period ended, the Department of Health was responsible for ensuring all privacy obligations of s 94P of the Privacy Act were met, meaning that all data related to the COVIDSafe app was to be deleted, including:
- Registration information
- Encrypted user IDs
- Device diagnostic information, and
- Contact data.
The COVIDSafe app is no longer available to download, and all data related to the app has since been permanently deleted. Additionally, legislation supporting the introduction of the COVIDSafe app has also been repealed in accordance with privacy legislation.
For a full reading of the media release, see here.