If it meant pandemic travel restrictions could be eased, would you download the Federal Government’s coming TraceTogether coronavirus tracing phone app?
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The TraceTogether opt-in app is expected to be rolled out in the next two weeks.
It may use GPS tracking as well as Bluetooth technology to record contact with people, even if you do not know them.
The app would identify and trace people who tested positive for coronavirus and alert people who spent more than 15 minutes in close proximity to an infected person.
It won’t tell you the name of the infected person, but you should then get tested.
Other details are not yet available on the app, but some apps overseas alert people when they are entering a coronavirus hotspot.
The app requires a 40% take-up rate to be effective. It will be similar to the TraceTogether app used in Singapore (below) where the take-up rate has only been 20%.
Now, Australians and riders, in particular, love their freedom and have historically rebelled against civil liberties infringements, such as the current Draconian Personal Infringement Notices (PINs) or on-the-spot fines.
So we don’t expect we would have a higher take-up rate than Singapore where the app has anonymous ID.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy suggested it be mandatory if too few people download it.
If the government wants 40% of Australians to download the app, then they should consider offering inducements. Carrot, rather than stick approach.
“Carrots” could include the freeing-up of travel restrictions.
If that’s the case, we would like to see motorcyclists allowed to ride solo for leisure, so long as they observe other rules such as social distancing, personal hygiene, staying within state borders and no overnight trips.
If the authorities were worried about too many app users heading out for a ride, fishing, surfing, etc, maybe they could send out an alert to a certain percentage of users on particular days saying they are allowed out.
Then, if they were intercepted by police, they would have proof that they are legally allowed out of home detention.
Some European countries have a similar system to restrict travel into the CBD during peak hours based on the last number in their number plate.
It all sounds like some Dystopian Hollywood blockbuster film, but these are unusual times and perhaps it is time to start thinking along these lines.
The alternative is staying home, losing your job, getting depressed, drinking too much, etc.
Our concern is that the current Orwellian measures and extra police powers will not be rolled back when the pandemic ends.
However, surely with an app, you can simply opt out again and regain your freedoms and civil liberties.
Several countries are working on or have introduced similar apps.
Most are very intrusive.
However, Germany is working on an app with a rolling ID code that changes frequently to protect your privacy but still allow tracking.