First published 19 August 2022, last updated 30 November 2022
The Minister for Health and Aged Care has determined that the COVIDSafe app is no longer required to prevent or control the entry, emergence, establishment or spread of COVID-19 in Australia.
The determination commenced on 16 August 2022.
The purpose of a determination
A legal framework of privacy protections was established in 2020 under Part VIIIA of the Privacy Act 1988 to protect COVID app data.
This included a requirement for a determination to be made once the minister is satisfied that the COVIDSafe app is no longer required or likely to be effective in preventing or controlling the spread of COVID-19 in Australia.
The minister received a recommendation from the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, supporting the decision to end the COVID app data period, as required by the Privacy Act.
What happens now that a determination has been made
In accordance with its obligations under the Privacy Act, the Department of Health and Aged Care has deleted all COVID app data from the National COVIDSafe Data Store. No COVID app data will be retained.
The Department of Health and Aged Care is advising COVIDSafe app users that COVID app data can no longer be collected through the app, and that users should uninstall the app from their devices.
This information is also available on the Department of Health and Aged Care’s COVIDSafe website
What does this mean for COVIDSafe app users?
Individuals who have downloaded the COVIDSafe app and who registered as a user do not need to take any steps to ensure their COVID app data is deleted from the Data Store.
The Department of Health and Aged Care has ensured that any data that was collected from users of the COVIDSafe app has been permanently deleted.
During decommissioning, COVIDSafe app users may have received push notifications and SMS texts informing them that the COVIDSafe app is no longer in use and been encouraged to uninstall the app from devices. Uninstalling the COVIDSafe app ensures that COVID app data is deleted from an individual’s personal device.
Individuals are encouraged to follow advice from the Department of Health and Aged Care in relation to uninstalling the app from their device, if they have not already done so.
Importantly, this process relates specifically to the COVIDSafe app and does not impact on other, ongoing public health measures in relation to COVID-19 – for example, other contact tracing processes or requirements to provide personal information to support the ongoing public health response.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) had an independent oversight function of the COVIDSafe app under the Privacy Act, which included actively monitoring and regulating compliance with important privacy protections.
The OAIC was empowered to conduct assessments to ensure that the privacy protections in Part VIIIA of the Privacy Act were being complied with.
On 30 November 2022 , the OAIC released its final COVIDSafe assessment report, which examined the compliance of the Department of Health and Aged Care with the deletion and notification requirements for the end of the COVIDSafe data period. For information about the OAIC’s findings and privacy recommendations, please see the assessment report.