Australian intelligence agencies “incidentally” slurped up private data from the country’s much-touted COVIDSafe smartphone app, according to the their inspector-general, who nevertheless insisted no one’s privacy was violated.

At least one intelligence agency collected private data generated by the government’s COVIDSafe contact-tracing app during its first six months of use, the inspector-general of intelligence and security (IGIS) revealed on Monday, before attempting to reassure skittish Australians that “there is no evidence that any agency within IGIS jurisdiction has decrypted, accessed or used any COVID app data.”

However, IGIS acknowledged that further “inspection activities” would be underway to “verify data deletion” and confirm that the intelligence agencies had not, in fact, pawed through users’ supposedly private data. The body has also refused to reveal which of the six agencies it presides over actually did the collecting – hardly a confidence-inspiring move.

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The data collection took place “in the course of the lawful collection of other data,” the IGIS explained, adding that such ‘collateral snooping’ was permitted under the nation’s Privacy Act. However, that same law requires agencies to delete the surplus data “as soon as practicable.” (RT)