Western Australia Might Be Quarantining COVID Check-in Info
The Australian Hard Border State Began the Process of Protecting COVID Contact Tracing Information from Law Enforcement.
More than a year ago the COVID-19 pandemic was kicking off, but Western Australia finally decided to introduce legislation into state parliament meant to keep the information used by contact tracers away from the state’s law enforcement authorities.
The Protection of Information (Entry Registration Information Relating to COVID-19 and Other Infectious Diseases) Bill are the bills that are covering the information obtained through contact registers and the SafeWA check-in app.
Using the WA Health developed app, the system operators and patrons alike can easily register their attendance at relevant venues in a secure and convenient manner. The app generates a unique venue QR code that helps SafeWA to reach efficient COVID-19 Tracing in case this would be necessary by providing a digital register of contact details for patrons attending venues.
The digital register was developed exclusively for WA Health and is provided at no cost to WA venue operators or the public, as part of mandatory requirements to maintain a contact register, and is an extra precautionary measure in line with COVID safety principles.
The State is currently lacking protection for this type of information, with WA Police having previously used the information collected to investigate “two serious crimes” starting the end of 2020. That is why check-in systems were mandated and needed to be used in Western Australia.
Contact tracing was the sole purpose and designated use by the WA Government when the system has been introduced midst the Global pandemic and while access to this information was lawful. Safeway collected information was never intended and used for commercial purposes. The new legislation due to come is the one that should consider this case. Currently enforced measures require businesses to store written contract registers in a secure and confidential manner; by the same measure, they also have to make sure customers do not come by recorded details easily.
It’s worth mentioning that under the new legislation the businesses and venues will still be required to retain hardcopy contact registers for 28 days unless they are required for longer periods of time, for contact tracing purposes, and after the 28 days period passes the businesses and venues must destroy the records as soon as practicable.
Mark McGowan had claimed that his government has “always been committed to protecting contact register information” and acted quickly when introducing measures created to maintain WA safe in the rapidly changing environment that the pandemic created.
We only have to look at previous cases here in WA, and outbreaks in other jurisdictions to see how critical contact registers are in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and the severity of restrictions and lockdowns.
Back in May 2020, the Commonwealth government agreed to modify its Privacy Amendment (Public Health Contact Information) Bill in an attempt to ensure that the nation’s law enforcement authorities were unable to access the data stored as part of its COVIDSafe app.
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