Private Companies in the US Share Location Data with Government to Fight Epidemic, Report Claims
Various tech sector companies are collecting location data and sharing it with the US government in its effort to track the movement of people during the COVID-19 epidemic in as many as 500 cities.
Many devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) world, including smartphones and watches, could give authorities precise location data. With so many devices using embedded GPS solutions, getting a movement map for a particular city is not that difficult.
A report from The Wall Street Journal that cites “people familiar with the matter,” says tech companies and firms from the mobile ad industry are giving authorities phone data that supposedly has been stripped of any identifiable information.
While the practice of gathering location data to chart people’s movement during the COVID-19 pandemic is nothing new, its use in the United States has yet to be implemented, or at least acknowledged, by the government.
For example, authorities in Germany, Italy and Austria are using location data to see if people respect the imposed lockdowns, and they are doing so by respecting the GDPR rules and removing any information that could lead to the identification of individuals.
On the other hand, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it’s not currently using phone application data to track the movement of people, and it’s only using surveillance data from official sources, such as the World Health Organization (WHO).
The most interesting use case was in Italy, where mobile carriers offered information on people’s movements in Lombardy, one of the most affected regions. More than 40% of the people were still on the move despite the fact that a lockdown was in effect.Covid-19 IoT pandemic smartphones surveillance watches