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Australia Businesses' collection of information for coronavirus contact tracing raises privacy concerns for customers

09:11  28 october  2020
09:11  28 october  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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Business owners call for the Tasmanian Government's help with the collection of information for contact tracing , amid concerns over how companies can use people's personal details. Questions are being raised over the privacy of coronavirus contact tracing at Tasmanian hospitality venues

Coronavirus : Business and technology in a pandemic. Coronavirus contact - tracing apps: What are the privacy DocuSign CEO: WalMart and other customers keep finding new use cases for digital However, security experts and privacy campaigners have voiced concerns about the use of contact

text: Launceston publican Nick Daking says he has many questions about businesses' role in contact tracing. (ABC News: Mitchell Woolnough) © Provided by ABC Health Launceston publican Nick Daking says he has many questions about businesses' role in contact tracing. (ABC News: Mitchell Woolnough)

Questions are being raised over the privacy of coronavirus contact tracing at Tasmanian hospitality venues, amid allegations personal information is being used for promotional purposes.

Some small businesses being asked to collect the data say they are not getting enough support from the State Government.

Public health authorities have encouraged pubs, restaurants and other businesses to collect the names and contact details of patrons to help with contact tracing in the event of a COVID-19 case.

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Personal information shared for contact tracing purposes need to be limited so that it doesn't turn into a mass invasion of privacy long term, according to While Apple and Google's joint initiative to build a platform that helps contain the spread of the coronavirus , steps have to be taken to prevent it into a

Many countries are turning to contact tracing apps to fight COVID-19. These represent grave threats to privacy if they are not designed properly. This has led a number of countries and tech companies to develop coronavirus contact tracing apps for smartphones. The idea is that such an app would

An independent Tasmanian MP said she recently received advertising material after providing her personal details to a hospitality business.

Nelson MLC Meg Webb said she gave her information to the Hobart venue for contact-tracing purposes and received a promotional email from it the next day.

Ms Webb has chosen not to name the venue she visited, but said the incident raised questions about what constraints and requirements there were on businesses collecting and storing personal information.

"I felt that was a bit of a grey area, something that needed to be clarified for businesses to ensure that when we're leaving our details in relation to COVID-19 requirements, that we're really clear as customers and businesses … in terms of what they can do with it and how it's used," she said.

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Contact tracing means that we look for the people with whom a sick person has had contact . This enables these contact persons to quickly get the right advice. Other official information and services of the Belgian government: www.belgium.be. Coronavirus COVID-19.

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She said the State Government should give businesses a template to use, with a statement on how the collected information would be used.

"I think the Government has to set the standard here and make it as easy as possible because that's the way we're going to keep our protection really high as we open up our borders," she said.

Ms Webb said she did not want to see Tasmanians become annoyed with promotional material and stop providing the correct information.

"People need to know that when they leave their personal details for the purposes of COVID-19 tracing that that's what the information is going to be used for only, and that it won't be used for other purposes," Ms Webb said.

The head of the Tasmanian Hospitality Association, Steve Old, said he did not believe the issue was widespread, but was happy to work with the specific venue if Ms Webb released its details.

"While we appreciate the moral obligation of the use of patron details to an extent, it's not exploiting any laws as far as we're aware," Mr Old said.

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'We're making it up,' pub owner says

Unlike capacity limits and rules prohibiting patrons from standing while drinking, collecting contact details is not mandatory for businesses.

Launceston pub owner Nick Daking said his business was doing its best to follow guidelines around contact tracing, but was not getting enough support from the Government.

"I'm referring to providing us with some forms, providing us with some advice and direction on how we collect this information," Mr Daking said.

He said his business was trying to gather the names and numbers of every person who entered the pub.

"We made it up when we first reopened," he said.

"[There was] no direction, no proforma, no advice. How do we verify the information that people are giving us? How do we store it?

"What form would you like us to have it in? Do we need to email it to you if Public Health wants it — do we hand it over? Do we post it?"

He said there were a couple of "big elephants in the room".

"Privacy — we're collecting people's information," he said.

"We're leaving hundreds of people's names and numbers at the front door of thousands of venues across Tasmania."

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Guidance coming for business

On Tuesday, the director of Public Health, Mark Veitch, said there were various ways businesses could collect information, "whether through pieces of paper or some apps that I understand can also be used for it".

He said it was not sophisticated information that was required, it was "pretty basic".

"In the next several days, we will provide some guidance on the sort of information that we want, and we're not at this stage going down the path of prescribing the sheet of paper," Dr Veitch said.

"But it's pretty straightforward: It's what the person's name is, telephone contact number — the right one please — an email and when they were at the premises."

He said Public Health was looking at how the process could be mandated.

Attorney-General Elise Archer said there was enough support around contact tracing for venues, and WorkSafe Tasmania was helping businesses with COVID-safe plans.

"We're not in the business of trying to make things mandatory unless that's on the director of Public Health's advice," she said.

Ms Archer said businesses must only use information for the purpose for which it was collected.

"So I would encourage all businesses to maintain that level of privacy for their customers and patrons, and ensure they only use that information for that purpose," she said.

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Business suggests app or QR code for collect information

Vee Hanson manages the Signal Station eatery at Mount Nelson, which her partner Robbie McLean owns.

When patrons arrive, Ms Hanson takes their name and contact number, and also asks a series of questions about whether they have travelled interstate or overseas recently, and whether they have symptoms or been asked to isolate.

"The standards that we've put in place are really high and we want to keep it that way," Ms Hanson said.

#dayssinceEMBEDfull

She said the business was being vigilant about being COVID-safe and keeping personal information private.

"We would only release that information to the Department of Health if required and after 21 days that information is shredded," she said.

Ms Hanson said while the Signal Station had managed to come up with an information collection system that worked, something like a standard QR code or an app would be easier for businesses to manage.

"The Government have been fantastic in looking after Tasmanians … something like this could also be such good value to them," she said.

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Privacy concerns as South Australia becomes latest state to flag QR code contact tracing .
Civil libertarians are concerned for their privacy as SA becomes the latest state to consider QR code scanning for contact tracing. But the SA Police Commissioner says the data will be deleted after 28 days. "An absolute fundamental of any type of technology platform like this is that we assure the people who are required to use it that the information is kept secure," he said."This information is only kept on the basis we are looking to be able to do contact tracing when a positive case is detected, which means that the data will be dumped after 28 days. "It's not being retained. We don't need it for any other purpose.

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This is interesting!