Contact tracing doesn’t stand a chance without backing from the tech community.

April 22, 2020 / By OPTF

Simon Harman, CEO and chairperson of the Loki Foundation — Australia’s first dedicated privacy tech not-for-profit — warns the contact tracing app will fail unless the Australian government improves their communication. If the government wants the support of the tech community, the contact tracing app must be made open-source. 

Quotes attributable to Simon Harman:

“If our contact tracing app uses BlueTrace, that’s great — it’s open-source and, in my opinion, pretty low risk when it comes to user privacy.

“This contact tracing app wouldn’t get a mention in the top 500 list of apps that seriously expose your privacy, most of us are running much bigger threats in the background 24/7.

“Australia’s contact tracing app shouldn’t ever ask for location permissions. If the app requests location access upon install, the government will have some very big questions to answer.

“Currently, the government is doing an atrocious job of convincing Australians to support their plan. It’s not that the plan is bad, they’re just not selling it.

“Australians are reluctant to trust the government’s plan given their long history of fumbling tech projects.

“Getting rubber-stamped by government-funded organisations like the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre (CSCRC), and the intelligence-gathering agency Australian Signals Direct, won’t win the trust of the Australian public.

“If the government really wants people to use this app, they’re going to need the tech experts, the health officials, and the digital rights community to support it. The best way to win the tech community over is to make the app open-source.

Mr Harman is available for further comment at request.

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