The trade-offs 'smart city' apps like COVIDSafe ask us to make go well beyond privacy

published 18.05.2020 12:00

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Apps like this have implications for the forms of social control that operate in dense urban environments—where use of a digital technology is technically "voluntary," but ends up being required if people want access to urban spaces and infrastructures.

The public focus has been on the app's privacy implications, but other important issues warrant critical scrutiny too.

For those of us concerned about the social and political life of our increasingly "smart" cities, the thinking behind the COVIDSafe app and other "smart city" technology must be open to challenge.

Australian government messaging is framing use of the COVIDSafe app, while voluntary, as being imperative in the public interest.

Privacy protections Compared to other government and corporate apps, the COVIDSafe app now has relatively strong privacy protections.