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IN BRIEF

  • The Facts:Governments may start tracking the location and movement of people with Coronavirus, or those who have come into close contact with people who have the coronavirus.
  • Reflect On:Are these measures justified? Is this a new phenomenon or, as Edward Snowden has emphasize, are we all being tracked all the time?

Has the government announced that they will start tracking people’s location via their smartphones in order to keep the coronavirus in check? It depends on which country you’re talking about. A new live index of security measures by Top10VPN details the countries which have already brought in measures to track the phones of coronavirus patients. Canada and the United States are not on this list.

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For example, in Singapore on March 20th, an app  called TraceTogether was released by authorities in Singapore to help trace the spread of COVID-19. The app apparently is nearing one million users, and it was developed by the Government Technology Agency and the Ministry of Health. According to the Straits Times, the app can “identify people who have been in close proximity […] to coronavirus patients using wireless Bluetooth technology.”

Top10VPN lists 10 more countries that are starting to take similar measures, like India. Reuters reported that, “People suspected of having the coronavirus in India have received hand stamps and are being tracked using their mobile phones and personal data.”

Other countries on the list include Poland, The UK, Italy, Israel, Germany, Hong Kong, Austria, South Korea, Belgium, Iran, and Taiwan. The National Post is also reporting that Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Monday gave the authorities five days to develop a system to track people who have come into contact with anyone with coronavirus by using mobile phone geolocation data.

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread around the world, more governments are relying on mobile carrier data to track everything from patients who should be isolated to how well people are following limited-movement edicts. (The Verge)