If you are one of the millions of Australians who work from home and turn to apps to maintain a social life online in the coronavirus pandemic, it is as important as ever to see what and how much information you can unintentionally share with them.
What should I keep in mind when I download applications?
First, check what permissions the application requests when you are installing or opening it, depending on the platform you are using. Anyone you don't think is relevant, don't allow it. If the app doesn't allow you to use it without access to those features, consider whether it's worth it.
"Often times, the default settings for these types of services may not be set with your privacy or security in mind, so it is important to adjust your settings accordingly to ensure your account is as secure as possible," said the security commissioner. electronics, Julie Inman-Grant.
“We also encourage users to read the terms and conditions of these services so that they understand what kind of data is collected about them and how they are used, as well as the mechanism to report any abuse. This will help you limit the amount of personal information that is shared with the service or with third parties. "
Should I be concerned about what data applications they collect at the time of the coronavirus?
Your attitude toward the data these apps collect shouldn't be any different than when you're not in the middle of a pandemic. It is always a good practice to be alert.
Is Houseparty safe?
Houseparty is a video conferencing application designed more for non-commercial purposes. The app has been around for about four years, but was picked up last year by Epic Games, the company behind the popular Fortnite video game. Its popularity has skyrocketed. It is estimated to have been downloaded several million times in the past few weeks as more people are trapped in their homes and want to socialize.
Cyber security researchers have suggested that the permissions of the application you are looking for are consistent with those of a video conferencing application. Access your microphone and camera if you give permission, along with Facebook contacts and friends if you provide it.
How about Zoom?
The other video conferencing platform that has a boost in popularity in the coronavirus pandemic is Zoom. Similar to Houseparty, it is important to check permissions, but Zoom has had some privacy concerns in the past.
Meetings are public without access codes, so people can "zoombomb" them if meetings use the default settings. And last year, the company had a glitch that allowed hackers to hijack people's webcams through the app. This week, the company was also forced to repair its iOS app, which sent data to Facebook even if it didn't connect via Facebook.
A number of built-in features may also be a concern, including one that affects users who didn't focus on the app for more than 30 seconds when a screen is shared.
Can I use the coronavirus app without being tracked?
This week, the federal government launched a new information app on iOS and Android that essentially mimics the information available on the health department's website about the symptom checker, number of cases, press releases, and phone numbers.
Most of the personal information it collects is that if you voluntarily register for self-isolation, it will ask for your location. Guardian Australia understands that the information is only recorded at the time of registration or editing of your information (not continuous monitoring) and is used by the government to determine where these self-isolates are located for analysis, investigation and protection of public health.
On WhatsApp, the chat developed by the government with the help of Atlassian is an automated service that only provides information. It is not a method of sharing information with the government, such as the application of coronaviruses. The only personal information the government collects is your phone number.
What about the information I provide to the government through other means?
If he returns to Australia in the next two weeks or more, the federal government made it easy for his movements to access a wide range of state and federal agencies.
Through new migration regulations, internal affairs have expanded the uses that can be made of information in passenger movement records. These records include citizenship, visa class, passport number, departure date, flight number, expected place of disembarkation, and final destination.
Under the rules, state police forces can access information for law enforcement and crime prevention and investigations of missing persons.
The Office of National Intelligence will have access to the information for its own purposes and to assist other agencies that are engaged in security research.
The Australian Election Commission will have access for the purposes of "reviewing and prosecuting voters who appear not to have voted in an election."
Instrument 2020 also clarified that the inspectors of the fair labor ombudsman, who verify compliance with labor laws, will have access.
State and federal privacy commissioners released a statement this week saying privacy laws allowed multiple jurisdictions to share personal information at a time like this, but urged governments to conduct privacy impact assessments to ensure that the handling of personal information is reasonable, necessary and proportionate.