Australia’s COVIDSafe app has been out for three weeks now but despite the government’s draft legislation stating the data cannot be accessed outside of coronavirus tracing purposes, some of its vague wording is causing legal experts concern over potential misuse.

But despite the app seeming mostly fine on a software level, legal and tech experts still have their reservations about gaps in the legislation that could see foreign governments such as the United States access data held by the app’s datastore under certain circumstances.

Why this is not surprising

A new amendment has been introduced in parliament looking to allow for the easier sharing of communications data between Australia’s law enforcement and spy agencies and foreign governments. It comes in response to calls that spy agencies are being left behind without timely access to messaging apps with cloud servers in foreign jurisdictions.

It would also allow for Australia’s nominated spy and law enforcement agencies to request access for message and phone call data from citizens living in overseas jurisdictions.