COVID contact forms: Why Sydneysiders are telling lies

 

Exclusive: Sydney residents worried about their privacy are lying on contact forms when attending venues including cafes and restaurants, risking their health and safety, and those around them.

A poll of 1500 Australians, given exclusively to News Corp, found one in 10 respondents had purposefully recorded incorrect or incomplete details on venue contact forms.

A quarter of those polled during the first two weeks of July said they were concerned the venue would not destroy their personal information properly. Nearly a fifth feared the business would use their details for marketing purposes.

A young woman scans the QR code to sign in at the Village Crow pub in Sydney’s Zetland. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gaye Gerard
A young woman scans the QR code to sign in at the Village Crow pub in Sydney’s Zetland. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gaye Gerard

The data provided by GuestCheck - a contact tracing platform - also found about one in ten respondents, who were aged 16 and over, believed providing their details to venues was unnecessary given they had already downloaded the Federal Government's COVIDSafe contact tracing app.

Legislation exists in every state and territory mandating venues to record patrons' details and to hold them strictly for contract tracing purposes.

In NSW, businesses including hospitality venues, casinos and registered clubs must register as a COVID Safe business.

Governments across the nation are being urged to mandate digital contract tracing forms at venues.
Governments across the nation are being urged to mandate digital contract tracing forms at venues.

The NSW Government urges businesses to use digital check-in forms to keep customers' details, but those who record details on paper must create a digital record within 24 hours.

Venues must keep the names, and mobile number or email addresses of the customers or visitors for at least 28 days.

One in 10 Sydneysiders said they had purposefully provided incorrect or incomplete details on contact forms to protect their privacy.

More than quarter of those surveyed were concerned the venue would not destroy their personal details appropriately. About a fifth were concerned the business would use the information provided for marketing purposes.

News Corp has contacted NSW Health for comment.

The data also revealed that almost half of respondents were concerned about their contact details being on a paper page for anyone to see.

Patrons at venues using GuestCheck text a unique venue code to a designated mobile number, which then provides them with a secure check-in link.

Visitors then provide information based on what that business is required to record. Staff can then cite a green screen presented on the patron's device that confirms the guest has registered correctly.

Businesses recording details on paper must create a digital record within 24 hours.
Businesses recording details on paper must create a digital record within 24 hours.

GuestCheck CEO Adrian Kinderis, whose digital contract tracing app is used by more than 500 pubs and other venues across Australia, called on governments across the nation to mandate digital contract tracing forms at venues.

"Governments need to do more. By not regulating this properly it leaves our health officials and contact tracers wading through handwritten logs and a patchwork of unverified contact data," Mr Kinderis said.

"Without complete confidence that venue guests can be traced and contacted, the system is totally flawed."

He said they needed to ensure they were storing personal data safely and securely to "avoid the risk of a privacy breach".

"That's a financial and reputational risk no business can afford right now," he said.

Damien Manuel, Director of Deakin University's Centre for Cybersecurity Research and Information, said while details provided in digital contact tracing forms were not immune from security breaches, that should not deter people from providing the information.

"People give away so much more information to companies like Facebook," Mr Manuel said.

"You should, when you receive an email or a text message, question the legitimacy of it. And if you take that thought process, then really, there's no harm in providing your name and contact details.

"It's not like you're handing over your date of birth, licence number, or passport information."

 

Originally published as COVID contact forms: Why Sydneysiders are telling lies

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