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General Issue

The Efficacy, Equity and Externalities of Australia’s COVIDSafe App as a Policy Intervention during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Was It Sunscreen or Tanning Lotion?

Author

John Selby

Digital contact tracing apps, such as the COVIDSafe App in Australia, have been rapidly implemented by many governments as a public policy solution to increase the efficiency of health screening testing during the COVID-19 viral pandemic. This article analyses how the COVIDSafe App’s unresolved efficacy and equity issues and the cybersecurity and privacy externalities it imposes onto Australians have prevented the App from making a significant positive contribution towards reducing the impact of the pandemic in Australia. It attributes some of the failure of Bluetooth-based digital contract tracing apps to their mis-characterisation as a Lessigean ‘code as law’ policy response, arguing instead that such apps are more complex and fragile cyber-physical systems requiring more analysis prior to implementation.

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