As the government continues to encourage Australians to download the COVIDSafe tracing app, the use of marketing for the app has been called into question.
Speaking as part of a panel discussion on data privacy on Thursday morning, Verizon Media head of data ANZ Dan Richardson pointed out the lack of marketing material the app was launched with.
“Launching the app before an educational marketing campaign, such as the government has done right now, was the wrong way to go about it,” he said.
“I think we should have had that first and then launched the app, so people felt a little bit more comfortable.”
The government has this week started launching a series of television, radio, outdoor and social media ads educating citizens about the app.
The app was first released on 26 April.
With the latest figures suggesting some 5 million Australians have downloaded the app in nearly two weeks, the government clearly still has some problems with gaining the public’s approval on the app.
According to Richardson, this comes down to trust.
“The thing for me about personal data, is it’s all about brand trust. The brands here are the Australian Government and Amazon Web Services, so there’s not exactly the highest level of trust in both of those brands,” he said.
“When I consider the app and what it’s doing and the function it’s going to deliver, I am still very concerned about how the data will be used in an ongoing fashion, who it might be shared with and also data storage as well.”
Joining Richardson on the panel was privacy advocate Brittany Kaiser, who is famous for her role as a whistleblower at Cambridge Analytica.
She made the comparison between the current pandemic and the US Government’s response to 9/11 in 2001, which saw the ‘Patriot Act’ – which gave the government extra powers to detect terrorism through surveillance – brought into legislation.
“What we all need to remember is that during the time of crisis both governments and companies can decide to ask us to give up some fundamental rights and freedoms in order to protect us from something temporarily,” she said.
“[The Patriot Act] is getting signed into law again every few years, even though it was supposed to be a temporary act of emergency.
“We have to realise that this is happening again and what are we comfortable giving up. So [if] we don’t understand what we’re giving up, I don’t think we should be so keen to assume that using these apps is for the greater good.”
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