Although Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is urging people to download the contact tracing app COVIDSafe, experts warn that it is full of holes.
Researchers at the Brookings Institution warn that such tracing apps can be misused as vehicles for abuse and discrimination.
Moreover, COVIDSafe does not address false positives, an example of which is people standing in close proximity yet being safely separated by a wall.
The problem is that someone may receive an instruction to self-quarantine despite not having been infected.
If these false positives keep repeating themselves, people may start disregarding the app’s advice.
On the other hand, there is also the issue of false negatives.
What if someone doesn’t have their phone with them or the app fails to work?
COVIDSafe is also being criticised for giving its users a false sense of security.
While it certainly does help to keep the population safer, it cannot guarantee that you will not catch the virus due to bad luck.
In what can be referred to as automation bias, people may trust the technology’s advice more than their own judgment.
This, in turn, can lead to reckless behaviour and the feeling of being safe despite the dangers.
A recent poll by Essential showed that 40% of Australians would download the app, while 28% still remain undecided.
By Sunday, the app had an estimated number of 4.25 million users and counting.
Pandemic response models show that using COVIDSafe translates to a reduced risk of infection.
With the COVIDSafe app, the government is taking a different approach than with its controversial encryption legislation.
The identity-matching legislation is an obstacle that the government will have to find a way around.
The Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security issued a demand that it be completely rewritten.
Despite its many imperfections, the app is certain to play a role in reinstating Australia’s economy.