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Australian gov’t app forces residents to submit photos proving their location or police will respond

Cellphone use (relexahotels/Pixabay)
September 03, 2021

The South Australian government launched a new at-home quarantine policy last week requiring citizens to download an app with facial recognition software and geolocation to prove they are following the two-week quarantine mandate or face police response.

According to ABC News Australia, Steven Marshall, premier of the State of South Australia, rolled out the app in late August, requiring those who return to the state from New South Wales and Victoria to quarantine for 14 days.

Travelers may quarantine at home rather than a hotel if they download the app, which was developed by the South Australian government. To qualify for home quarantine, individuals must prove they have a place to isolate and must also be fully vaccinated.

Using geolocation and facial recognition, the app tracks users in quarantine by randomly contacting them and asking them to provide proof of their location within 15 minutes.

“We don’t tell them how often or when, on a random basis they have to reply within 15 minutes,” Marshall said.

If a resident in quarantine cannot prove his location or identity when asked, the South Australian Health Department will contact police, who will subsequently verify in person that the individual remains in quarantine.

Marshall said none of the information provided to the app will be stored by the government, and that he hopes the national trial will be applied to international travelers in “subsequent weeks.”

“We just use it to verify that people are where they said they were going to be during the home-based quarantine,” Marshall said.

According to the premier, the continued use of medi-hotels for international arrival is “implausible” and the government hopes the app technology will both increase quarantine capacity and reduce reliance on police officers needed to monitor those in quarantine.

“We are trying to take some of the cost associated with home-based quarantine out,” Mr Marshall said. “In the past where we have had this option for people coming from interstate and in the early days from overseas, it required a very heavy police presence to go and check on them.”

“Now we have had a great uptake of the QR code check-in app here in South Australia, people say it’s the best in the country, I think they’re right and now we are the national selected pilot for this home-based quarantine app,” he added.

Marshall said the first person using the home-based quarantine app is already in place, and the first part of the pilot program involved “around 50 people.”

“I think every South Australian should feel pretty proud that we are the national pilot for the home-based quarantine app,” he said.