The Western Australian police will retain personal information collected by the state’s COVID-19 border management system for at least 25 years, before archiving it indefinitely, the state government has revealed.
Amid questions over data retention in the wake of the Optus data breach, the government this week confirmed the 25-year retention period for archived data from G2G Pass, which was discontinued with the removal of interstate travel restrictions at the end of April.
“G2G data will be retained for 25 years before being transferred to the State Records Office, in accordance with records retention policies,” Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said during parliament this week.
G2G Pass was introduced in April 2020 to manage interstate or overseas arrivals to WA during first wave of the pandemic, and required travellers to submit an application each time they entered the state.
The system, which was discontinued on April 30, is distinctive to the G2G Now home quarantine smartphone app that used facial recognition technology and location data to confirm a person’s whereabouts.
Minister Dawson, who was responding to questions without notice on behalf of the Police Minster Paul Papalia, said the G2G Pass data is “considered a state archive in accordance with the State Records Act 2000, which requires the information to be kept”.
He also stressed that the data is “able to be accessed by only six employees of the Western Australian Police Force staff – not by all police officers”.
WA Liberal MP and shadow police minister Peter Collier said the 25-year retention period for G2G Pass was totally unnecessary given interstate travel restrictions and the pass system were removed in April.
“To learn they are going to retain all of the information they receive from Western Australians for their G2G passes for 25 years – and then transfer it to the State Records Office is astounding,” he said.
Mr Collier said most Western Australians would not have been unaware of the government’s intentions to retain the data for 25 years when they provided the data as a requirement of entering the state.
An archived version of the G2G Pass frequently asked questions page from March indicates that by using the app individuals are “consenting to the collection, use and disclosure” personal information but makes no reference to the timeframe for storage.
“The G2G was intended to be used as a tool to manage people coming in and out of Western Australia and to assist with contact tracing – why do they need it now? I cannot conceive why the Labor government would want to retain this information for a quarter of a century,” Mr Collier said.
Last year, the Western Australian government was forced to introduce urgent legislation after it emerged that WA Police had accessed data from the state’s COVID-19 contact tracing check-in app while investigating crimes.
The legislation introduced the requirement that contact tracing information, either through the SafeWA app or stored in hardcopy by a business, only be used for the purpose of contact tracing, not for police investigations.
SafeWA, like similar QR code check-in apps developed by other state governments during the pandemic, stores information for 28 days before it is deleted.
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