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Cops tried to access Covid check-in data to solve crimes amid fears people will stop using QR codes


How rogue cops tried to access Covid QR check-in data SIX times to solve crimes before being stopped – as some states BAN cops from using it

  • Law enforcement tried to access CovidSafe QR data on six occasions 
  • Some MPs and civil liberties groups have called for greater privacy regulations 
  • NSW and WA are the only states which have moved to legally ensure privacy  










QR code check-in data had been sought by law enforcement agencies on six occasions as part of investigations, with many police forces now banned from accessing the data.

The check-in system is a vital tool to fight the Covid pandemic, with similar schemes in place across the world. 

‘We were told QR check-ins were for health purposes only, if they’re now being used for law enforcement it is a fundamental breach of trust,’ Liberal MP Tim Wilson said. 

The data has been accessed by police in Queensland via a search warrant after a police issued firearm and taser was stolen from a pub. 

A police officer was stood down over the incident.

Each state and territory in Australia has a QR code system but only NSW and WA have moved to make it illegal for the data to be used for other purposes (stock image)

Each state and territory in Australia has a QR code system but only NSW and WA have moved to make it illegal for the data to be used for other purposes (stock image) 

In Victoria, police tried to access the data three times but were knocked back on each attempt. 

While in Western Australia, cops accessed the data on three occasions without a search warrant, which has led to an official ban on police accessing the data. 

Along with Mr Wilson the MP for Goldstein in Victoria, a number of other backbench MPs raised concerns the data could be used for purposes other than Covid contact tracing. 

Liberal MP Jason Falinski said unless the public had confidence their privacy was being respected, they would not use the system, which could then risk a surge in cases. 

‘The bigger issue here is the health outcome, and if you start collecting this data for other reasons, then people are going to stop checking in,’ Mr Wilson said. 

Opposition assistant spokeswoman for government services Kimberley Kitching said formal regulation needed to be introduced over how the data is used. 

‘We’re not China, and the police have a very difficult job keeping us safe from violent criminals. But I worry that it might undermine people’s willingness to comply with the check-in process if they think different arms of government are going to use the data for previously undisclosed purposes,’ Ms Kitching said. 

Andrea Lachsz from the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service went one step further and has called for the National Cabinet to formalise a plan to phase out the system once vaccination targets are met. 

Some critics have said there needs to be a guarantee the system will be phased out when vaccination targets are met (stock image)

Some critics have said there needs to be a guarantee the system will be phased out when vaccination targets are met (stock image) 

NSW has now made it illegal for police to use QR code data by including a line in the public health order which states the data must only be used ‘for the purposes of contact tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic’. 

In South Australia the government has made assurances data is deleted after 28 days and will not be used for other purposes, while WA is looking at laws protecting QR data.

Victoria and Queensland police are able to lawfully access the data under ‘extraordinary circumstances’. 

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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