26 September 2023

OAIC reports on COVIDSafe privacy

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The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has released its second six-month report on the privacy protections that apply to the COVIDSafe system.

Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, Angelene Falk said the Report, COVIDSafe Report November 2020-May 2021, set out the OAIC’s regulatory oversight of the privacy aspects of the system.

Commissioner Falk said the OAIC received 14 enquiries about COVIDSafe between 16 November and 15 May.

“Ten enquiries raised general issues or concerns about COVIDSafe and four related to a request to download or use the app,” Commissioner Falk said.

She said the general enquiries raised issues about changes to the Privacy Act 1988 as they related to the app and information on deleting data uploaded to the National COVIDSafe Data Store.

The Commissioner said the enquiries related to requests to download the app and included an enquiry about a venue refusing entry to an individual unless they used COVIDSafe or signed in using a QR code, and an enquiry about whether an employer could require an employee to download the app.

“We continue to engage closely with Australian Government Agencies and State and Territory Health Authorities to assess implementation of the COVIDSafe privacy protections,” she said.

“Our assessment program is examining the handling of COVID app data throughout the information lifecycle, from notification, collection, use and storage to access and deletion.”

Commissioner Falk said her Office was also continuing to promote its COVIDSafe guidance to increase awareness and understanding of the system’s privacy rights and obligations.

She said the OAIC didn’t receive any complaints or data breach notifications in relation to the app during the reporting period.

The OAIC’s 13-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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