How does the government define privacy?

Excerpt from an article by Kelsie Nabben and Chris Berg*

Personal information collected via the COVIDSafe app is governed under the Privacy Act 1988 and the Biosecurity Determination 2020.

These legal regimes reveal a gap between the public’s and the government’s conceptions of “privacy”.

You may think privacy means the government won’t share your private information. But judging by its general approach, the government thinks privacy means it will only share your information if it has authorised itself to do so.

Fundamentally, once you’ve told the government something, it has broad latitude to share that information using legislative exemptions and permissions built up over decades. This is why, when it comes to data security, mathematical guarantees trump legal “guarantees”.

For example, data collected by COVIDSafe may be accessible to various government departments through the recent anti-encryption legislation, the Assistance and Access Act. And you could be prosecuted for not properly self-isolating, based on your COVIDSafe data.

A right to feel secure

Moving forward, we may see more iterations of contact tracing technology in Australia and around the world.

The World Health Organisation is advocating for interoperability between contact tracing apps as part of the global virus response. And reports from Apple and Google indicate contact tracing will soon be built into your phone’s operating system.

As our government considers what to do next, it must balance privacy considerations with public health. We shouldn’t be forced to choose one over another.

ENDS

* Kelsie Nabben. Researcher / PhD Candidate, and Chris Berg, Senior Research Fellow and Co-Director, both of the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub, RMIT University

This article appeared first on The Conversation on 30 April 2020. http://tinyurl.com/y9ngs893

 

The post How does the government define privacy? appeared first on Civil Liberties Australia.

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