Australian Federal Police are investigating widely-circulated screenshots of a hoax text message linked to the coronavirus tracing app.
It comes as Labor and the crossbench continue to express concerns about the app’s privacy and security implications.
The fake text purports to come from the COVIDSafe app, warning people they had been detecting straying more than 20 kilometres from their homes despite the software not tracking location.
The phony message directs people to register their reason for travel within 15 minutes.
“This case has already been referred to the federal police for investigation,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Tuesday.
“Anyone found to be responsible will be charged with a criminal offence … this isn’t a game, this is about life and death.”
Crossbenchers met with the prime minister’s office and health officials on Tuesday to discuss their concerns about the app, with independent Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie worried it was vulnerable to cyber attack.
“They don’t have a good track record in the past, the coalition, with keeping information where it’s supposed to,” Senator Lambie told ABC on Tuesday.
Senator Lambie said most of the crossbenchers seemed settled on the app but some still had concerns.
She also questioned needing 40 per cent of Australians to use the app for it to be effective, when other countries with similar software were talking about needing an 80 per cent take-up rate.
Labor backbencher Ed Husic said the government still had a big job to improve trust with Australians.
“If you don’t have the trust in the way this app is managed, this will dent the ability of this app to be successful,” Mr Husic told ABC.
He said the government had still yet to release legislation stopping the app’s data being misused and hadn’t yet released its source code, which would allow tech heads to test the app for privacy and security flaws.
Mr Husic said Australia’s foreign intelligence agency, the Australian Signals Directorate, had its own concerns about the app.