About 2 million Australians, or about eight percent of the population, downloaded the country's new coronavirus tracing app after it was launched on April 26, although concerns over security and privacy lingered.
COVIDSafe uses a Bluetooth signal to exchange anonymized IDs between app users who are within 1.5 meters of each other for at least 15 minutes. It does not track location.
Users of the app need to submit their postal code, mobile phone number, age range, and name or even a pseudonym. The data will be stored on a government server, and if someone who the user came into contact with tests positive, the data is transferred to health authorities so they can determine who needs to be notified.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said that use of the data or a purpose other than contact tracing would be illegal.
"It cannot leave the country. It cannot be accessed by anybody other than a state public health official. It cannot be used for any purpose other than the provision of the data for the purposes of finding people with whom you have been in close contact with and it is punishable by jail if there is a breach of that."
All data will be deleted within 21 days or when COVIDsafe is deleted from the phone. The data will not be turned over even if there is a police warrant or court order to do so, according to the government.
Although use of the app is voluntary, the government has set a target of 40% of the population in order to achieve the best results.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has compared COVIDsafe to war bonds.
"In the war, people bought war bonds to get in behind the national effort. What we’re doing in fighting this fight is we’ll be asking people to download an app which helps us trace the virus quickly and the more people who do that, the more we can get back to a more liveable set of arrangements," he said.
The increase of new coronavirus cases in Australia is said to be below 1% for two weeks. As of April 27, there were about 6,700 confirmed carriers and more than 80 deaths.