November 26th – Russian TV reported on the 25th today that an Australian government monitoring agency recently found that the country’s intelligence agencies were suspected of collecting privacy data six months after the launch of the COVIDSafe contact tracing application. The app cost the Australian government $70 million to develop, but only 17 cases have been tracked so far.
The Attorney General for Intelligence and Security (IGIS) of Australia issued a statement on the 23rd that the data of the application was collected “in the process of lawfully collecting other data”, did not infringe on anyone’s privacy, and there was no evidence that any institution decrypted, accessed or used the data.
IGIS declined to disclose which of the six agencies it administered had data collection, nor did it specify what data was collected, explaining only that the data collection process was legitimate, and that such “side snooping” was allowed by the state privacy law. But the agency also said that it would delete the redundant data “as soon as possible” where practicable.
In April this year, it was reported that the Australian government spent $70 million to develop the COVIDSafe app. However, since its launch, the app has only 17 cases, and it will cost about $4.12 million more to track each case. The Australian government regards the application as the only designated tracking system and urges users to download it actively, insisting that the system is privacy-friendly and users must upload personal information such as name, age, telephone number and zip code before using it.