COVIDSafe legislation welcomed but needs to better protect our right to opt in or out

11th May 2020

The COVIDSafe tracing app needs a strong legal framework to safeguard our rights and privacy and the release of draft legislation is welcome, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“The legislation is essential to provide some certainty around the protection of our privacy,” said Mr Andrew Christopoulos, National President, Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“We are pleased to see that the legislation will prevail over other laws, including those that authorise the issuing of law enforcement and intelligence warrants. This will help ensure data collected is used only for helping to track the spread of COVID-19.

“To ensure our rights are protected, we would like to see it made clear in the legislation that the app must operate on a strictly voluntary, opt-in basis at all times and that users are able to easily opt-out at any time as well.

“We are opposed to any overt or subtle measures or messages that seek to coerce people to download the app. To protect against any coercion, we are pleased that the legislation will make it an offence for someone be required to download the app, or to be refused employment or access to a premises on the basis that they have not downloaded the app.

“We also welcome the inclusion of an oversight role for the Office of the Information Commissioner to check how personal information is handled and stored, and to respond to complaints about privacy breaches.

“We understand that public health emergencies require the government to take extraordinary measures but there must always be appropriate laws in place to provide necessary protection of our rights.”

Tags: Human rights Privacy COVID-19