On 8 April 2020 the Senate established the Select Committee on COVID-19 and referred the following matters to it for inquiry and report on or before 30 June 2022:
the Australian Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
any related matters.
To members of the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this Senate inquiry. Below you will find a submission related to the COVIDSafe application. We are doing seperate submissions on a per-topic basis to optimize for your reading experience.
Members from the https://covidsafe.watch/ community are available to give in-person evidence to future public (or private) hearings by video conference.
We would appreciate a confirmation of the receipt of this submission and welcomes any feedback you may have.
https://covidsafe.watch/ is an online community backed by a team of security researchers, open-source software engineers, community managers and privacy specialists that support the concept of technology based contact tracing.
We want to see lives saved through the use of this unprecedented technology.
It is crucial to us that privacy and security issues are addressed promptly and communicated in an inclusive and open manner.
We believe transparency is essential to achieve both of these goals without compromising either. Compromising privacy risks people’s lives by undermining public trust in the systems built to protect them.
This can only be achieved by direct collaboration with engineers using transparent open source platforms as done by the UK National Health Service.
It's here! The source code for the COVID-19 BETA Apps.
🙌 I'm Geoff, the probono open-source software engineer leading the independent analysis of covidsafe via studying the source code. Software that I maintain is inside Microsoft Visual Studio, GitHub, Atlassian Sourcetree, Amazon Drive, Halo, Slack, is heavily used by the financial services industry and has been installed by other software developers over 21 million times.
Photo licensed under Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
I'm a hybrid hardware and software developer, with current professional experience with open-source development and designing/developing BLE-based products for George Robotics. Formerly worked in programming/electronics education at Grok Learning, and before that at Google Australia as a tech lead in the SRE team as well as some time working with the Android team.
Why do I keep getting COVIDSafe messages and notifications on my phone when I've already downloaded the COVIDSafe app?
If you've registered and installed the COVIDSafe app on your phones you have probably asked yourself this very question. Notifications or text messages from COVIDSafe have been flying thick and fast it seems.
Queensland open-source software engineer Geoffrey Huntley explained that the federal government is using the notification window as a way of letting Australians know that the application is working successfully.
And what about the text messages being sent directly to individual mobile phones?
"It's just an SMS, it's got nothing to do with the app.
"They've got no way of knowing if the app is installed or not - they are essentially sending an SMS to every mobile phone number in Australia that you should download the app.
"It's like spam in your junk box - it's an SMS advertisement that the government is sending to everyone"
@GeoffreyHuntley so just got a text telling me to install the covid app. but i alreay have it installed. shouldn’t they know this and not need to text me?
First long-term tracking issues reported to email@example.com, ASD, Maddocks (author of the PIA). First reports of the app interacting poorly with other Bluetooth devices (e.g. Continuous Glucose Monitors).
First four issues described in a single document that was distributed widely to the relevant teams (both through official and unofficial channels).
First contact with Singapore OpenTrace team. TempID caching issue fixed same-day. The Singapore team confirms that iPhones in the background are “not expected to work”. ASD confirmed that they will “follow this up”. No further contact. The Cybersecurity CRC confirmed that they have forwarded this doc but are extremely dismissive of the findings. No further contact. Maddocks replied and promised to forward the doc. No further contact.
First contact with DTA. v1.0.15 & v1.0.16 (Android) released containing only updates to graphics and animations and some minor text changes. The only issue fixed is the confusing wording raised by Geoff. risky.biz publishes a high-level summary of the known issues at this stage.
v1.1 (iPhone) released. DTA confirms that they were first aware of the issues on 30/04/2020, but our contact still had not read the document. Full details of CVE-2020-12586 shared with the ASD/ACSC and DTA
Same issues discovered in the ABTraceTogether app used by Alberta, Canada. Emailed, and Skype meeting arranged within 24 hours.
DTA confirms that there will be a release tomorrow to fix the iPhone crash but it will fix none of the outstanding privacy issues.
v1.0.17 (Android) and v1.2 (iPhone) released. Contrary to advice from the day before, fixes the first two privacy issues (along with the remote iPhone crash). DTA asked (via SMS to Jim Mussared) for availability to discuss fixes for CVE-2020-12586 in the next couple of days. Jim offered that they can call any time, but then they never followed through on arranging a time. No further contact received from the DTA, all follow-up emails ignored. (Edit: update after this doc was published, see below)
The The COVIDSafe App - 4 week update document was released publicly. 26 minutes later, update from the DTA with a planned release date for “the remaining Bluetooth issues”.
v1.4 (iPhone) released and available to download, source code partially available same day but unable to compile as source code is missing. v1.0.18 (Android) source code released but Android application but not available to download from the app store.
Submisisons for the Australian Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 close.
Appendix - Google Android Changelog
Brand new coat of paint and did not resolve privacy breach. Accidentally added 20 second pause to the launch screen.
Removed 20 second pause from the launch screen.
Partially resolves privacy breaches.
Source code released but application not available for download from the app store. Analysis pending.
Appendix - Apple iPhone Changelog
Debug view removed, updated design and removed com.googleusercontent URLScheme.
Largely fixed background behaviour. Implemented the fix for CVE-2020-12717.
Removed daily notifications to remind users to keep app in foreground.
Application released, source code was partially published but unable to compile as files are missing. Analysis pending.