More than two million Australians have downloaded the coronavirus tracing app within a day of its release, far exceeding expectations.
The tech community has swung behind the new contract tracing software after analysing it with privacy concerns in mind.
The COVIDSafe app is designed to help health officials identify people who have come into contact with somebody infected with the disease.
The voluntary app became available for download on Sunday evening and has the backing of doctors, nurses, businesses, bankers and travel agents.
Health Minister Greg Hunt was thrilled with the uptake.
Having initially expected the figure might hit one million within five days, it got to the mark in five hours, he said.
The figure rose to two million by Monday evening.
“This effort will help protect ourselves, our families, our nurses and our doctors,” he tweeted.
The government ultimately wants at least 40 per cent of the population on board.
Software developer Matthew Robbins says the general consensus among his peers is that the app is fine.
“It’s totally fine to install and it’s a good public service to do so,” he told AAP.
“If the tech community is pulling it apart and critically analysing it and hopefully effectively communicating what we’re seeing, I do think that people will uptake it.
“We’re really being a counterbalance to what (the government) are saying.”
Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes urged the tech community to “turn the … angry mob mode off” and instead help the government fight misinformation.
“When asked by non-technical people ‘Should I install this app? Is my data/privacy safe? Is it true it doesn’t track my location?’ – say ‘Yes’ and help them understand,” he wrote on the Hacker News discussion board.
“Remind them how little time they think before they download dozens of free, adware crap games that are likely far worse for their data & privacy than this ever would be!”
Mr Cannon-Brookes said the government had made smart privacy and security choices with the app.
Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said the commonwealth would never have access to the data collected.
“We have locked this down so completely, so thoroughly with the biosecurity rule, with legislation that is coming, the only people who can access the data are the state and territory health officials,” he told reporters.
“We have a compact with the Australian public: this app will only ever be used by public health officials in the purposes of contact tracing.”
And Mr Hunt confirmed people concerned about privacy could use a fake name to register.
The other personal information collected is a phone number, age range, and home postcode.
However, some federal politicians still hold privacy concerns.
Nationals backbencher Barnaby Joyce won’t download the app until he receives a briefing from the responsible minister.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is also against the idea.
Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said safeguards were in place to protect personal information collected through the app, and her office would watch its implementation closely.
The health department anticipates publishing the source code within two weeks, after the Australian Cyber Security Centre gives it the ok.
Legislation making misuse of the data collected via the app a jailable offence won’t be taken to federal parliament until May.
Labor has indicated it is inclined to back this.
Originally published as Millions of Aussies download COVIDSafe app