Gov. axes Contact-tracking software COVIDSafe

Kutl Ahmedia

People to delete the app.
Mark Butler, the health minister, determined that the much criticized COVIDSafe contact tracing software was "no longer essential" to stop the spread of the virus.

In a Tuesday afternoon update to the Apple and Google app stores, the Department of Health said that COVIDSafe was "being discontinued" and urged users to start removing the program.

According to the release notes for the most recent version on the COVIDSafe app listing, "This app is no longer being used in contact tracing."

"This update disables the app's functionality, ensuring that no data is saved or gathered. This will facilitate COVIDSafe's decommissioning procedure.

Users are given the warning: "Data is no longer gathered and will be erased from the national COVIDSafe data storage" while attempting to launch the app.
The notification instructs users to a webpage to help them delete the program and states that "Data on your devices will be destroyed when you uninstall the app."
Following a seven-day grace period, the government's decision to scrap COVIDSafe months after Australia started a "normalization agenda" appears to have taken effect on Sunday.

Although it was made on July 31, the Privacy (Public Health Contact Information) (End of the COVIDSafe data period) Determination 2022 wasn't made public until Tuesday.

The document states, "The health minister is satisfied that use of COVIDSafe is no longer necessary to prevent or control; the entry, emergence, establishment or spread of [Covid-19] into Australia by the day after the end of the period of seven days beginning on the day this instrument is registered."

A Labor-led senate committee demanded that COVIDSafe's funding end prior to the May election, citing the app's "high cost and serious restrictions."

As of October 2021, COVIDSafe had cost the government more than $9 million, $2.77 million of which went toward hosting costs through Amazon Web Services.

According to the research, just 17 distinct contacts were found using the app in 2020, and state governments did not use COVIDSafe during the Delta outbreak in 2021.

The Department of Health acknowledged last year that the app was "rarely" used, but at the time attributed this to low rates of transmission within communities and effective manual contact tracing.

However, once the government ended its emergency pandemic powers for a few months and average daily deaths rose from 20 to over 70, the government has now joined the fray.

With considerable enthusiasm, COVIDSafe was introduced in April 2020, with former Prime Minister Scott Morrison comparing it to "wearing sunscreen outside." However, it quickly came under fire from the government.

From the beginning, it was evident that encounter logging on iOS devices was troublesome, especially while COVIDSafe was operating in the background. This problem lasted even when the software was upgraded with a new Bluetooth protocol.

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