Governments Use Internet and Cell Phones To Fight the Corona Virus Pandemic &
Track Your Every Move
The Coronavirus pandemic has forced both the government and the private sector to increasingly lean on technology in ways never imagined only months ago.
In the private sector, applications like Zoom and Skype have seen a usage spike as the traditional office setting for business has shifted to the home.
While the world begins moving towards reopening the economy, the fear of new cases is not lost on the powers that be. Various new mechanisms designed to track any further outbreaks of COVID-19 are being developed.
The website OneZero now confirms that there are as many as 30 governments around the world that are employing the use of internet and telecommunication-based methods to track infected individuals and to ensure that quarantine protocols are being followed. These countries include the United States, Poland, Singapore, Russia, Italy, Israel, Pakistan, Iran, and Germany.
This effort is not limited to governmental entities.
In the US, the mobile advertising industry has partnered with the federal government to supply location data of mobile users to help determine whether Americans are complying with stay-at-home orders and whether parks are being frequented.
Additionally, Foursquare, an app that people use to “check-in” at their favorite public locations, is currently in talks with several government organizations to help track potential carriers of the Coronavirus, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Internationally, other tracking efforts include an app developed by the Iranian government that has recorded millions of users’ location data as it surveys the user’s likelihood of infection with COVID-19.
A text message advertising the app was sent to millions of Iranians, advising them to take the questionnaire before being tested for the Coronavirus. The Iranian government confirmed that the app provided them with the location data for at least 3.5 million Iranians.
In Israel, government officials have requested information from telecommunication companies to help track the location of citizens diagnosed with Coronavirus and to inform citizens who may have interacted with an infected person of their possible exposure risk. This information is also being used to enforce the current mandatory stay-at-home order.
Singapore’s government has recently released an app called TraceTogether, which has the ability to ping nearby smartphones via Bluetooth and determine when people have come within 6.5 feet of each other for more than a half-hour, according to the Los Angeles Times.
A hacking group from Libya has recently created a new trojan known as SpyMax which purports to be a data hub for concerned individuals looking for the latest news regarding COVID-19 and is a knockoff of the frequently visited John Hopkins University Coronavirus dashboard. The Libyan group behind SpyMax is said to lure their victims via text messages.
The question of whether these measures constitute a violation of privacy is also an important matter for debate.
A reasonable argument can be made that, in America at least, issues related to possible 4th Amendment violations as a result of these new tracking methods may surface, as the government is being provided with the digital “personal effects” of citizens without the use of a court-issued subpoena. It seems that this increased scrutiny from the government may be just another one of the harmful effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
More Work From Julio:
Julio Rivera is a business and political strategist, the Editorial Director for Reactionary Times, and a political commentator and columnist. His writing, which is focused on cybersecurity and politics, has been published by websites including The Hill, Real Clear Politics, Townhall and American Thinker.
Edited by Corina Perez-Cobb, Jason Kauppila, Bryan Xiao & Alexander Fleiss