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Australia testing 'Orwellian' quarantine app that dispatches police if users don't verify location within 15 minutes

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A state in Australia is testing a new app that would help the government track residents to ensure they are obeying COVID-19 quarantine orders.

The government of South Australia has begun a trial of the Home Quarantine SA, an app that The Atlantic calls "as Orwellian as any in the free world."

Australians will download an app on their cellphone that features facial recognition and geolocation. The South Australian government will randomly contact the user to check if they are at their approved quarantine location. Users will have 15 minutes to take a photo of their face. If the quarantining individual fails to reply within 15 minutes, a police officer will be sent to "check" on the person.

"Home Quarantine SA uses geolocation and live face recognition check-ins as a key component of ensuring your safety, as well as the safety of the community," the government of South Australia website states. "The check-ins are on a randomized schedule and confirm that you are at your approved address and ensures you are compliant with your home quarantine direction."

"The app performs several geolocation and live face recognition check-ins at random intervals each day and you will have 15 minutes to respond," the website reads. "If you miss the notification and the phone call, a compliance officer may visit the approved address to check you are safe and compliant with your direction."

"If a person cannot successfully verify their location or identity when requested, SA Health will notify SA Police who will conduct an in-person check on the person in quarantine," the Australian Broadcast Company reported.

"Home Quarantine SA is voluntary at this time," the government notes.

Premier Steven Marshall touted the invasive app, "I think every South Australian should feel pretty proud that we are the national pilot for the home-based quarantine app."

Marshall said the pilot program began with about 50 people, but he hoped the trial would be expanded to international travelers in "subsequent weeks."

Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald commented on the quarantine app, "No matter your views of COVID, what's happening in Australia is alarming, extreme and dangerous."

Australia already has some of the most stringent lockdowns in the world.

In New South Wales, individuals who break lockdown orders face a maximum penalty of A$11,000 ($7,840), or imprisonment for 6 months, or both, and another A$5,500 ($3,920) penalty "may apply for each day the offense continues."

Last week, the Queensland government announced that it was building a regional COVID-19 quarantine facility that will have 1,000 beds by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

In July, about 300 Australian army personnel were deployed in Sydney to enforce coronavirus lockdown orders, even going door-to-door to ensure COVID-positive Australians are quarantining.

Last month, there were massive protests, which at times became violent, against the draconian COVID-19 lockdowns in the Australian cities of Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney.

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