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I work for an IT firm and am currently the person in charge of doing onsite troubleshooting for PCs in the office while everyone is working from home (Remote Desktop solution we adopt requires out PCs to be on but there are still issues).

Recently the Australian Government came out with a Coronovirus Tracking app that uses bluetooth to handshake other users and store these handshakes so that if any of them gets Coronovirus we are notified. i have my own privacy and security concerns about this app however the Australian Government has said it's option for people to use

Do I have to use the contact app?

• No. Its use is entirely voluntary, but using it will help save lives.

Source: CORONAVIRUS CONTACT APP FAQS PFD File from FAQ Page

Today when I got into work I saw a company wide email talking about this, the part that concerned me was this

It is required that all employees are to install the COVIDSafe app on either a work provided phone or a personal phone.

I know some people have been provided with mobiles from work but not everyone (myself included) and even if I was provided with a work mobile I would still object to installing the app because of my concerns. While the email does not explicitly state that installing this app is a requirement for continued employment the fact it says installing it required and doesn't say anything about those who choose not to seems makes me concerned.

What can I do to proceed?


Though I don't think it matters to the question, my concerns about the app is not only the obvious potential to track people but also

  • the Australian Government had security and privacy issues with the roll out of the National Health Record which dimly colours the rollout of this app
  • I keep my bluetooth off to extend the battery as I live in a remote area and phone reception needs to be boosted at times which already causes enough of a drain
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    Note to all: you are on The Workplace not Android Enthusiasts or similar sites. The specifics of the app and technical workarounds aren't really in our scope and comments should be used for clarification of the OP's question and intent only. To that end @Alvin: is your priority to avoid installing the app yourself, to push back against this request, to check whether your employer can ask this, or something else? – Lilienthal Apr 27 at 7:04
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    Note that "the government says it's optional" is a bit vague. Did the government say that it's not legally required by the government themselves, or that it's illegal (for an employer) to require it? – Flater Apr 27 at 9:48
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    How will they possibly know if you have installed it or not on a personal phone? – Viktor Mellgren Apr 27 at 11:42
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The news this morning reported that it will be made illegal to force employees to download the app, under the privacy provisions and the Biosecurity Determination which govern the use of the app and data it collects.

You can refuse the request from your employer and cite the following from the Department of Health:

Privacy policy for COVIDSafe app - How will personal information be collected? - Australian Government Department of Health

No user should feel pressured to install or continue to use COVIDSafe, or to agree to upload contact data to the data store. This is prohibited under the Biosecurity Determination. If you feel pressured to do any of these things, you can make a complaint to us (see below), the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, or the Australian Human Rights Commission.

That said - and I'm not advocating that you should install the app if you have concerns about - but you are going to generate friction between you and your employer. You may be in the right, but you may find yourself in a fight.

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    If the complaint process allows for anonymous complaints, he should just make an anonymous complaint to the right government agency. – Stephan Branczyk Apr 27 at 2:23
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    You could avoid the friction by sending an email to HR stating generally that you are concerned the company's email may be violating the policy and for the company's protection they should retract it. I suppose if they then disregard this and a complaint is sent to the government they'll naturally assume you sent it, so you could send this to HR anonymously via a throwaway email. – IllusiveBrian Apr 27 at 3:11
  • "you are going to generate friction between you and your employer" True, and this already great answer could be approved by providing some advice on raising this to an employer, though perhaps that merits a question of its own. – Lilienthal Apr 27 at 7:07
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    @IllusiveBrian the other option is to simply not install it. Do they do phone inspections or otherwise require you to account for having the app on your phone? An illegal order is an illegal order, and can generally be treated as if it never existed. – Robert Columbia Apr 27 at 12:12
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    You are going to create lots of friction between you and your fellow employees. I wouldn't want to work with you. If enough people complain and refuse to work with you, your employer might have reason to fire you. – gnasher729 Apr 27 at 15:34
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Freedom of choice and privacy are very important, I appreciate this.

I know some people have been provided with mobiles from work but not everyone (myself included) and even if I was provided with a work mobile I would still object to installing the app because of my concerns.

You say your concerns are:

Though I don't think it matters to the question, my concerns about the app is not only the obvious potential to track people but also

the Australian Government had security and privacy issues with the roll out of the National Health Record which dimly colours the rollout of this app

I keep my bluetooth off to extend the battery as I live in a remote area and phone reception needs to be boosted at times which already causes enough of a drain

If you asked them for a phone and they issued you with one then the only concern you've listed which remains is that they would be able to track you which is necessary for the tracking app.

If you are resolute that you don't want to do this then you will have to live with the possibility that you did not take a step which means that you could unknowingly transmit the virus which could then go on to kill people.

You probably have legal grounds to refuse but you have to weigh up whether your principles outweigh your moral responsibilities to your fellow human beings and live with your decision and it's your decision.

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    Concur - moving around a lot for work means OP could be an unwitting vector of transfer. – Criggie Apr 27 at 10:55
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    "If you are resolute that you don't want to do this then you will have to live with the possibility that you did not take a step which means that you could unknowingly transmit the virus which could then go on to kill people." - Installing an application on a mobile phone will not prevent the transmission of a virus. A user must provide accurate data to the application, for it to notify other users, that somebody with symptoms is close by. It also requires both users have their phone on their body. I find this answer extremely troubling. – Donald Apr 27 at 19:37
  • @Donald I find it more troubling that people are putting minor issues such as worrying about their phone battery being drained than people's lives. I'm in the UK where we have over 20,000 dead and I had to tell my young kids that their grandfather had died and my mother couldn't even go to his funeral as she is vulnerable and self isolating - That was the most horrible moment of my life. There are real lives at stake behind this and if enough people use the app then it will help to slow the spread and it will save lives and stop others having to go through what my family has been through. – Old Nick Apr 28 at 7:20
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    A phone application will stop the spread of a virus? I won’t be able to convince you of anything. – Donald Apr 28 at 8:01
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    Testing isn't yet at the level, in my country, where asymptomatic patents are testing for this virus. – Donald Apr 28 at 13:21
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There is no settled law yet in any country that any such "tracking" is legal for any reason whatever. (Never mind that we know that it now occurs for no reason at all.)

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