NOT CONVINCED: Rose City FM station engineer Chris Maddock said he won’t download the app until it’s proven safe and secure for its users. Picture: Bianca Hrovat
NOT CONVINCED: Rose City FM station engineer Chris Maddock said he won’t download the app until it’s proven safe and secure for its users. Picture: Bianca Hrovat

Community divided over government tracing app

THE Federal Government's new coronavirus tracing app has divided the Warwick community, with some accepting it as necessary and other fearing their information will be "misused".

The "Covidsafe" app maintains a log of Bluetooth connections a person's phone makes with devices they come into contact with that also have the app installed, which is refreshed every 21 days.

The Federal Government has also stated that this process is completed without actually tracing the user's location and that just under half of the Australian population will need to have the app for it to be effective in halting the spread of coronavirus.

Rose City FM station engineer Chris Maddock said he is reluctant to install the app until it has been proven to be both safe and effective.

"I'm not in a hurry (to download it) - I understand where it's coming from and what they're trying to do, I just don't trust the government," Mr Maddock said.

"I'm not being paranoid - they've proven time and again that you can't trust them.

I think that using technology certainly has merit, but it's the potential misuse of the information that I'm concerned about."

As a 66-year-old man with a chronic health condition, Mr Maddock said the coronavirus pandemic had been especially concerning for him and his family.

"It's a bit worrying because I already have health issues of my own, and it would most likely be the end of me if I got it badly," he said.

"People don't realise that we're still learning about the coronavirus - it's a novel virus and has never infected us before, and we have no defences against it.

But at the same time, I've come to terms with it - so long as people are doing the right thing and making their best efforts, I don't think there's going to be a problem."

However, for Warwick resident Jayne Shelley, already being an active social media user removed any perceived threat from the Covidsafe app.

"I'm on Facebook, so I'm fully aware that I'm being tracked all the time anyway, and the fact that I'm being spied on doesn't actually bother me," Mrs Shelley said.

"If the government want to track where I'm going, that's fine - it's nothing more than Facebook, and they're far more likely to sell my information.

(The app) only took about a minute to install - it was so fast, and they hardly wanted any of my actual information."

Mrs Shelley encouraged other members of the Warwick community to download the app, saying it seemed at most a small inconvenience in exchange for a gradual return to normalcy.

"One concern could be that it could be difficult for those who aren't already tech-savvy, like the elderly," she said.

"But, it's a bit like vaccinations - you need a herd.

I think the more people we get on board, hopefully the more we can actually get some of our freedom back - it would be a bit useless if there's only a handful of us running around town with it on."

However, for other members of the Warwick community like Mr Maddock, continued social distancing measures remain the safest route for now.

"We need continued social distancing just to make it so (the virus) naturally dies away," he said.

"Fastidiously keeping social distancing, washing hands, and disinfecting stuff will just have to become the norm - otherwise we'll get another wave through.

You have to take stricter measures until you know things for sure - how to stop the worst case, rather than achieve the best case."