Tag: COVIDSafe app

Australia’s COVIDSafe app becomes fully functional, Law Council bats for a robust legislative framework & transparency

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Image: Australia Govt.

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 13 May 2020: The COVIDSafe tracing app has become fully functional here today. This was disclosed by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Mr. Paul Kelly at a media update today. He said about 5.6 million people had downloaded the app and others who have not are encouraged to download the optional app.

He disclosed all states have signed up and trained to use the app as to what information they get and how it can be used.

Last weekend the government released the COVIDSafe app source code. In a statement, the Law Council said the code is consistent with its core regulatory design principles published on 24 April.

These principles included the release of both the source code and the privacy impact assessment as necessary for the operation of the app to be scrutinized by industry professionals, researchers, academics and community members so that individuals are in the strongest possible position to provide informed consent to the installation and ongoing operation of the app, says Law Council President, Pauline Wright, in a statement.

The Law Council will closely monitor the views of experts regarding the details of the source code and any actual or potential privacy and transparency impacts.

The Law Council also understands that a Bill will be introduced to the Parliament on 12 May to place the regulatory framework for the app on a legislative footing and replace the current Determination made under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth).

While the Exposure Draft Bill contained several welcome improvements to the Biosecurity Determination, the Law Council remains concerned that a number of matters remain outstanding.

These concerns focus on ensuring that comprehensive oversight provisions are provided to the Privacy Commissioner, making the allowance for the prohibitions on the use and disclosure of COVIDSafe app data to have application after the automatic repeal, and applying a gradation to the maximum penalties.

The Law Council has also called on the Australian Government to expedite an executive agreement with the United States Government under the US CLOUD Act to minimize the risk that any data obtained will be able to be accessed by US authorities under US legislation.

The statement goes on to say, ” While the Law Council understands the need for the urgent passage of the legislation, we also consider it important that the legislation is subject to the normal processes of parliamentary scrutiny including committee review, and ongoing consideration once implemented. Given that the app is likely to be operational for a sustained period, it is important that there is a strong basis for continued public trust and confidence in its operation.

Both a robust legislative framework and transparency in the app’s technical specifications are critical to the important national task ahead.”

Australia’s three-step staggered measures to relax COVID-19 restrictions

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By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 8 May 2020: Australia’s three months staggered 3-step roadmap to dilute Coronavirus restrictions starting this month is likely to generate 850,000 jobs by the end of July. Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced at a nationally televised media conference his ‘go back to work in a COVID-19 safe environment and getting the economy back to a more sustainable level’ plan finalized by the National Cabinet, which met today morning. The plan to be reviewed in three weeks will see individual states deciding their course of actions as per their objective situations.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews addressing a media conference here said he will announce the changes to the rules in Victoria on Monday (11 May 2020).

There have been 6,899 confirmed cases in Australia and sadly 97 people have died. There are now only around 1,000 active cases in Australia, and over the past week, daily infection rates have remained low. Testing remains high, with more than 730,000 tests undertaken in the country.

Australia has so far been highly successful in ‘flattening the curve’. The number of new COVID-19 cases in Australia each day is very low. We can now begin to take careful steps to ease some of the restrictions that have helped us suppress the spread of this virus.

The PM said, “We are confidently and cautiously taking the first step to lifting restrictions. Our success so far means we have slowed the spread of COVID-19 and built the capacity in our health system to manage the impact of the virus. We can now start to progressively ease the restrictions we have in place. The AHPPC has provided strong advice on the conditions that must be met as we establish COVID safe ways of working and living so that we can reopen parts of the economy in the safest possible way while living with COVID-19. This means that many Australians can start getting out to the shops, undertaking some local trips and travel, visiting playgrounds and public parks, and having friends and family around with a bit more freedom.

But the National Cabinet is very clear: continued suppression of COVID-19 is about collective action. Success depends on maintaining our new community norms – physical distancing, good hygiene practices, and downloading the COVIDSafe app to keep us all safe while we are out and about.

For businesses, this also means taking the time to prepare and develop a plan to operate in a COVID safe way to protect their customers and workers. With every one of us playing our part, we should all feel safe and confident in leaving the house and starting to do some of the things we’ve missed in the last few months – like getting back to work, having a quick bite in a restaurant or cafe, attending auctions and open houses, and participating in group exercise.”

For each of the major areas of restrictions we have set out three key steps between where we are now and where we want to be.

·Step 1 will focus on carefully reopening the economy, and giving Australians opportunities to return to work and social activities, including gatherings of up to 10 people, up to 5 visitors in the family home and some local and regional travel

·Step 2 builds on this with gatherings of up to 20, and more businesses reopening, including gyms, beauty services and entertainment venues like galleries and cinemas.

·Step 3 will see a transition to COVID safe ways of living and working, with gatherings of up to 100 people permitted. Arrangements under step 3 will be the ‘new normal’ while the virus remains a threat. International travel and mass gatherings over 100 people will remain restricted.

See the above graphic for a detailed plan of the three steps.

” National Cabinet also committed – as part of the three-step plan – to regular reviews and stocktake assessments of our progress every three weeks. We will be closely monitoring the situation as restrictions are eased. This will enable us to assess the impact of changes, track progress against our agreed precedent conditions, determine the pace of moving through the steps, and make any further decisions. The AHPPC and National Cabinet were very firm on this. We are prepared for an increase in case numbers or possible outbreaks, but relapse should not be an option. A second wave is not something we can afford to go through. The cost to our people, our economy, our social fabric, is too high. We should look to build success in each step, and move forward safely and with confidence, ” the PM said.

Addressing the media conference the PM said the ” National Cabinet again encouraged Australians to download the COVIDSafe app to ensure that we can protect Australians and reset baseline restrictions. More than 5.3 million Australians have already downloaded the COVIDSafe app. This is an enormous achievement, but more is needed.”