At least they're upfront about it.
The Government's NZ COVID Tracer app, released last night, says near the top of its Privacy Statement screen:
"Your personal information will be stored securely by the New Zealand Ministry of Health.
"In order to deliver this service we use Amazon Web Services located in Sydney, Australia."
After so much buy-local campaigning, it's amazing that a US company would get such a huge cloud computing contract.
It also goes against previous comments by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern implying that your data would be stored on your phone.
And it will be big. Installing the NZ COVID Tracer app is voluntary, but there will still be potentially hundreds of thousands or even millions of downloads - especially if it eventually becomes a pre-requisite for travel, or entry to certain venues.
The app appeared on Apple and Google's app stores last night, ahead of expectations, the PM will give the official briefing for NZ COVID Tracer later today. The Herald has also asked the Ministry of Health to clarify how it uses AWS for its app, and why it chose the multinational. (UPDATE: At a 1pm briefing, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said check-in information was held on a handset, while the ministry held contact details).
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is part of Amazon, whose founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is the world's richest person with a wealth of around US$143b.
Bezos' company has been in the news this week with a sixth worker dying from Covid-19.
The main argument here will be a commercial one, however. AWS likes to tout its huge scale and low pricing.
But NZRise cofounder Don Christie has previously said his local company, Catalyst, can go toe-to-toe with AWS on pricing.
And, more broadly, NZRise has maintained that as part of its Covid-19 response, our Government should choose local procurement where possible anyway, the better to bolster local jobs, economy and tax base (many tech multinationals take steps to minimise the tax they pay in New Zealand, tilting the cost playing field against locals as they vie for business).
Too bad the new vivid tracing app from NZ Govt reject Māori email address pic.twitter.com/20SBoiUbjm— don_hollander (@don_hollander) May 19, 2020
Immediately after Budget 2020, NZRise co-chair Breccan Mcleod-Lundy, told the Herald that there had only been limited buy-local progress.
"Our review of last quarter's GETS [the Government Electronic Tender Service] data shows that while similar numbers of NZ-owned and international businesses won projects, the average contract won by an international bidder was three times the size," Mcleod-Lundy said.
The NZCOVIDTracer/AWS episode won't help.
It could be the latest episode of what Christie has called our tech procurement "cultural cringe", where a government agency turns, starry-eyed, to a multinational when various locals are up to the job.
A spokesman for the Ministery of Health said, "AWS is part of an All-of-Government cloud services agreement that was formed in 2017 following a robust procurement process. This agreement allows all government agencies to access AWS services and infrastructure on the same terms ensuring secure access to the latest services and features.
"AWS services and infrastructure were reviewed as part of the procurement process and are regularly tested against third-party assurance frameworks."