WSJ: Gov't Tracking Americans Movements Through Phone Data in Order to Combat Spread of Virus


One of the things you need to watch out for during a crisis - well, besides the actual crisis itself - is portions of the government using said crisis to procure more power and control over the populace they're supposed to serve.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the government is beginning to use the location data from American's phones in order to track their movement, allegedly in an effort to determine how to best combat the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus (also known as COVID-19).

The WSJ reported:

The federal government, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], and state and local governments have started to receive analyses about the presence and movement of people in certain areas of geographic interest drawn from cellphone data, people familiar with the matter said. The data comes from the mobile advertising industry rather than cellphone carriers.

The aim is to create a portal for federal, state and local officials that contains geolocation data in what could be as many as 500 cities across the U.S., one of the people said, to help plan the epidemic response.

The data—which is stripped of identifying information like the name of a phone’s owner—could help officials learn how coronavirus is spreading around the country and help blunt its advance. It shows which retail establishments, parks and other public spaces are still drawing crowds that could risk accelerating the transmission of the virus, according to people familiar with the matter.

"500 cities across the U.S." So, if you live in a U.S. city of any considerable size, the government is most likely tracking where you are at all times. Of course, we can only go by the information provided. But, I don't know how many of you trust that the data they're using "is stripped of identifying information like the name of a phone's owner."

Apparently, this type of data collection is currently happening all over the world to try and combat the virus.

"Telecom carriers in Germany, Austria, Spain, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries have given data over to authorities to help combat the pandemic," the WSJ also reported. "Israel’s intelligence agencies were tapped to use antiterrorism phone-tracking technology to map infections."

Look, I'm not naive in the sense that government officials all over the world wouldn't use these measures in order to combat something like what we're currently dealing with. I guess my main problem is a) whether they will stop once the virus subsides, and b) how often do they do something like this without us ever knowing?

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