The Australian Covidsafe App and Privacy: Lessons for the Future of Privacy Regulation

In: Belinda Bennett and Ian Freckelton (eds), Pandemics, Public Health Emergencies and Government Powers: Perspectives on Australian Law (Federation Press, 2021), 165-180

The Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2021-61

Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming

Posted: 27 Oct 2021

See all articles by Normann Witzleb

Normann Witzleb

Monash University - Faculty of Law; The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Moira Paterson

Monash University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: August 31, 2021

Abstract

This chapter provides a preliminary assessment of the Australian expe­rience with privacy regulation during the pandemic. It examines the Australian legislation enabling the introduction of the COVIDSafe app, before exploring the interac­tion between high levels of privacy protection and the generation of public trust. We argue that the need for specific rules dealing with COVIDSafe contact data has highlighted weaknesses in the Australia’s existing data protection framework under the Privacy Act. The chapter also considers the privacy issues arising from digital visitor registration at public venues for contact tracing and analyses the effect of recent public debates about privacy for the future of privacy regulation in Australia. In our view, the public discourse about data protection during the pandemic demonstrates that Australians attribute high value to their privacy, even in a time of crisis. The example of the COVIDSafe app illustrates that robust privacy protections are critical to achieving a strong community uptake of new data-driven technologies. We submit that Australian society would therefore benefit if the government gave better recognition to privacy interests, and their protec­tion, than it has done in the past.

Keywords: privacy, privacy law, Covid-19, contact tracing, Australian privacy law, data protection

JEL Classification: K19, K29, K39

Suggested Citation

Witzleb, Normann and Witzleb, Normann and Paterson, Moira, The Australian Covidsafe App and Privacy: Lessons for the Future of Privacy Regulation (August 31, 2021). In: Belinda Bennett and Ian Freckelton (eds), Pandemics, Public Health Emergencies and Government Powers: Perspectives on Australian Law (Federation Press, 2021), 165-180 , The Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2021-61, Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3943175

Normann Witzleb (Contact Author)

Monash University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

The Chinese University of Hong Kong ( email )

6/F, Lee Shau Kee Building
Shatin, New Territories
Kowloon, Sha Tin
Hong Kong

Moira Paterson

Monash University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

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