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'Inexplicable': Govt's coronavirus app sends data to Amazon

Anastasia Santoreneos
·2-min read
Australia's coronavirus tracking app sends its data to Amazon for storage. Source: Getty
Australia's coronavirus tracking app sends its data to Amazon for storage. Source: Getty

The government’s coronavirus tracking app will store its data with tech giant Amazon, but will not mean US officials can access it, new reports show.

The government issued a data storage contract to Amazon for its coronavirus app, which is not mandatory, and early reports suggested this contract could mean Australian data would be made obtainable by US law enforcement under US legislation.

A spokesman for the Government Services Minister Stuart Robert told the ABC this would not be the case.

"Uploaded contact information will be stored in Australia in highly secure servers and protected by additional laws to restrict access to health professionals only," he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed the server was in Australia, according to the SMH.

"The server is in Australia and it's using Amazon Web Services, who work with Australia on many, many sensitive issues in terms of Australia's data management," the Prime Minister said.

"It's a nationally encrypted data store."

In an op-ed for the Australian, Labor members Chris Bowen and Mark Dreyfus asked the government to “urgently explain” why the data would be stored on servers hosted by a foreign company.

“On the face of it, the inexplicable decision to award the storage contract to a US company (overlooking Australian companies already security cleared for just such a role) could mean that personal information of Australian app users could be accessed by US law enforcement agencies,” they said.

“If this is not addressed, it is likely to be a serious impediment to building public confidence in the app.”

How does the coronavirus app work?

The coronavirus tracing app is designed to track the movement of Australians who have tested positive to Covid-19, and then alert those who they may have come into contact with.

Using Bluetooth technology, it will send an alert to other phones that have downloaded the app and that have been within a 1.5 metre radius of the person who tested positive in the last 15 minutes.

It isn’t mandatory, but the Prime Minister has urged all Aussies to download the app.

“The App we are working on to help our health workers trace people who have been in contact with the coronavirus will not be mandatory," Morrison tweeted.

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