back to article Australia to track coronavirus encounters with payment card records

Australia will develop the capability to use payment records in the service of coronavirus contact tracing. A National Contact Tracing Review released last Friday called for a raft of information technology responses to the pandemic, on grounds that containment of the novel coronavirus will be needed even after a vaccine …

  1. msobkow

    That is rather scarily intrusive of ANY government. Even *China* doesn't go quite that far as far as I know. No one does.

    No wonder the conspiracy fans think COVID-19 is being used as an excuse to impose societal monitoring and control! :o

    1. _LC_ Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Huh?

      You're contradicting yourself and yet, the others are the ones misleading people by giving them dangerous information?

    2. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      It is very scary.

      Of course, this is a very serious issue. And I can understand those who believe that things like privacy should be temporarily sacrificed to fight it.

      However, the issue is that anything done now, in the most dangerous of times, can never be undone. Any attempt to make it temporary is doomed. Once the mechanisms are in place (both technical, like connection of systems, and non-technical, like processes to make requests and have them approved) it can never be undone. Even if the government and all the actors involved wanted to undo it (unlikely!), there would be both illegal/unapproved usage (by criminals and by secretive government agencies) and additional "temporary" or "critical" occasions when "the temporary intrusion is justified" (terrorism, child protection, public health, etc).

      And, of course, combined with an ongoing pressure to stop using cash (both pressure from government and ordinary convenience benefits), even using cash becomes itself something which draws attention.

      Sometime in the future, the 21st century will be recognised as the time at which fascism stole the clothes of "democracy" and human society became authoritarian forever, with the approval of almost everyone at the time. Freedom for investigative journalism, activism, protest and holding government to account will be dead - and most people will approve in the name of "safety" and "nothing to hide"!

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        The problem is that "temporary" measures tend to become permanent quite easily. Ask any accountant about how many taxes were supposed to be temporarily or "only for thie emergency" and have basically lasted forever.

        Or how the USA government used the 9/11 to basically never stop spying anyone, ever. Yes, they don't stop even when they get caught.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "The problem is that "temporary" measures tend to become permanent quite easily. Ask any accountant about how many taxes were supposed to be temporarily or "only for thie emergency" and have basically lasted forever."

          Ask a french accountant, then pls :)

          So many I remember:

          - during the 70s, the automobile vignette, for elder persons support. Last in 2002 if I recall since it was so unpopular, stupid, and unfair. Also possibly because the never any sign it was allocated elderly people.

          - in 2004 Pentecot day went a working day. Again for elderly people. Still worked, still no sign of it being allocated to elders.

          - and now in France, they're talking about suppressing all of them :(

          And I'm not even an accountant.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think you'll find China goes way further than this, implementing a social credit system which involves everything from how rude you are to what you spend your time on, including computer games and what sites you visit.

      If you want to know what that society looks like watch Black Mirror Season 3, episode 1 'Nosedive'

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I think you'll find China goes way further than this, implementing a social credit system which involves everything from how rude you are to what you spend your time on, including computer games and what sites you visit.

        If you want to know what that society looks like watch Black Mirror Season 3, episode 1 'Nosedive'"

        I actually watched this very good BM episode and thought indeed it was very current, and ironically, probably a couple of years back, the scenarists only thought of it about sci-fi.

        Only, the mad current reality overtook them big time !

    4. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Even *China* doesn't go quite that far as far as I know.

      China has been extensively using CCTV to trace the proliferation of this virus.

      There are still some people who are infected but refuses to be tested.

      The longer this pandemic is going around the community the worst it is for business.

      Australian government is doing all they can to trace and track the "unknowns" without being accused of "this-is-not-China" methods. It is a very, very fine line.

      We have the "right" to choose but a lot of people think that it also gives them the right to act "stupid".

    5. TheRealRoland

      It happens very stealthily. Here in the US there's a shortage of coins and paper money, apparently. This all due to covid, according to the paper signs near the checkout.

      So what are the convenience shopper's alternatives: credit card or paper check. Paper check may have a similar stigma - handing over something to someone else "with covid on it".

      So you're left with using debit/credit cards.

      And that information is already being sold to the highest bidder. How else are companies able to predict trends in spending?

      Bottom line: this information is already readily available, without having to need draconian laws.

      1. _LC_ Silver badge
        Unhappy

        One of the first extensive studies about COVID-19 in Germany ("Heinsberg-Studie", results already in early May 2020) showed clearly that it cannot be transmitted that way. While they found the virus on door handles and even in pets of infected people (using a PCR-test), they never managed to infect anything with that material, not even invitro.

        Like everything else, they chose to ignore those facts in favor of a panic.

        1. Blackjack Silver badge

          It can however last a very long time in glass, computer screens and smartphones.

  2. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Pay cash

    It's still legal, innit? Can't be sure these days...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pay cash

      For the moment. They have already made the move to ban cash payments of greater than $10,000. I can only see that threshold drop.

    2. Phil Kingston

      Re: Pay cash

      Lots of places gone card only. Except the sushi bar in the nearby food court that has been cash only forever. Not suggesting anything of those guys, but cash is a lot easier to launder/evade tax on.

  3. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

    All we need

    Is a super spreader event at dildos are us. Gran the government want to chat to you :)

    1. _LC_ Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: All we need

      In case you haven't noticed, a "super-spreader" (what a dumb term) couldn't do much anymore. All the studies suggest that a large part of the population has already had it.

      1. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

        Re: All we need

        Proof please. And no quotes from QANUS. Unless the shape shifting lizard overloads have had there research peer

        reviewed ;)

        1. _LC_ Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: All we need

          Already the mention of that Q-setup tells me that you are trolling. I'm sorry that you are too daft to operate a search-engine.

          1. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

            Re: All we need

            But not so stupid to be spoon fed

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All we need

        "All the studies suggest that a large part of the population has already had it."

        Not currently true, but at the rate it is spreading in the US (1 million known cases in 6 days and accelerating!), it soon will be in some states such as the Dakotas, Wyoming, etc.

        Here in Oz, there have been less than 22000 total known cases so far, and almost all of them were in Victoria after the quarantine fiasco. Most of the rest were in NSW and many of those can be traced back to one cruise liner.

        Apart from the current bunch of cases in SA tied to another failure in the quarantine system there is virtually no community spread of the virus anywhere in the country.

  4. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Is the use of card payment data for tracking contacts optional or mandated? If its voluntary that they can request to use your bank data to show where you have been then I have no issue with it. But I think it is too intrusive if they legally require you to allow them to dig into your bank records

    1. _LC_ Silver badge
      Headmaster

      That's a thin line. The past tells us that it will be used eventually, even if you don't consent.

      1. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

        There's the problem

        As above

        1. _LC_ Silver badge

          Re: There's the problem

          Yes, stupid troll coming after me in a maniacal manner. I'm wearing the yellow star, it seems.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      They're not going to be asking you anything. They're going to tell the banks to do the job and hand over the results.

    3. Phil Kingston

      My issue with it is who has access to it and how they may be accountable. This kind of information grab is littered with situations like disgruntled spouses tracking their ex-partner's movements/income.

      Putting my payment and location information in the hands of whichever temp contractors are hired by Crapita/Serco/CSC/DSC/whoever sits very uneasily with me.

      I'd better be able to opt-out of this shit.

  5. John Robson Silver badge

    Hmm

    Given that Apple Pay doesn't actually send card numbers, and I assume Google Wallet doesn't either...

    Payment details might take a couple of different queries to sort out...

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      Given that Apple Pay doesn't actually send card numbers, and I assume Google Wallet doesn't either...

      Not often a problem. Legislators simply create legislation defining the capabilities that must be offered wrt contact tracing, ie ID+location (and watch that scope creep..)

      Then it's 'simply' a matter for Apple & Google to comply with that legislation, because it'll be the law. So non-compliance makes it illegal to use those payment methods.

      On the plus side, Apple & Google can spaff lots of money at lawyers & lobbyists to challenge laws.. But in the current climate, that'll probably be answered along the lines of "If you have this data, we want it as well!".

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        It's far easier than that - the correlation already exists, but it will take an extra query if you're going from shop to person rather than from payment provider (one seems reasonable, the other seems like a reach).

  6. Magani
    Happy

    Feature creep...

    ...by any other name would smell as sweet.

    And this method doesn't even need you to download a rather unused app.

    <Aside> Just got back from our Nation's Capital and the number of seemingly harmless and well intentioned apps that you need to interact with to sit down at a coffee shop, cafe, etc is amazing. Of course I have no doubt whatsoever that all the data will be dispensed with after 30 days... </aside>

  7. The Central Scrutinizer

    "noting that privacy rules will apply and in some jurisdictions legislative change may be required"

    Yeah, about that. The Australian government has an absolutely appalling track record of IT stuff ups.

    I'm off to the ATM.

    1. Phil Kingston

      Wash your hands before and after please.

      1. _LC_ Silver badge

        Are you suggesting that he's to take a dump on the ATM? :-)

  8. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    America, please take the virus seriously.

    * On Friday (13 November 2020), the US recorded 180,000 new infections.

    * Nearly 245,000 Americans have died from the virus.

    * ... 73 million Americans who implicitly endorsed the President regularly ridiculing people for wearing masks.

    * Calls by top doctors to make masks compulsory are dismissed as an outrageous assault on personal liberty.

    >180k daily cases and trending is HIGHER & >245k have Americans have died.

    How many of the 245k would have been voted for Trump, if I may ask?

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