Australia launched a coronavirus contact tracking app on Sunday, attracting over a million downloads in a matter of hours, the BBC reported. COVIDSafe allows devices to conduct a “digital handshake” when they are within 5 feet of each other, alerting users if they have come in contact with an infected person for more than 15 minutes.
The Australian voluntary app is based on Singapore’s TraceTogether software and uses Bluetooth and stored contact data, Reuters reported. The government claims that the app does not collect location data and that an infected person must consent to data sharing.
The Australian government claims that only health authorities would have access to the data stored in its app and that it would not be legally possible for other authorities to access the data.
Earlier this month, Apple and Google announced a framework for developing decentralized contact tracking apps. The information would be anonymized and the companies made a commitment to disable the service once the virus outbreak was contained. No country has yet joined the use of this specific framework. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley pushed for the CEOs of the companies will be personally responsible for the data collected within the project.
Germany said on Sunday that it is changing direction with the development of its contact tracking app, which will now use a decentralized architecture that is more in line with the approach taken by Apple and Google, Reuters reported.