How Far Is Too Far? Invasive Tech Returns Under Coronavirus Cover

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      Loz
      Participant

      How Far Is Too Far? Invasive Tech Returns Under Coronavirus Cover

       

      Electronic bracelets and phones that report a person’s whereabouts, text messages if they stray too far from quarantine and digital detectives tracking where they’ve been — these are just some of the innovative, albeit invasive, tech Asian countries have embraced to counter the pandemic.

       

      As the novel coronavirus runs rampant around the globe, claiming over 10,000 lives at last count, countries have been scrambling to find ways to track and curb infections and cure the afflicted.

       

      Electronic bracelets and phones that report a person’s whereabouts, text messages if they stray too far from quarantine and digital detectives tracking where they’ve been — these are just some of the innovative, albeit invasive, tech Asian countries have embraced to counter the pandemic.

       

      Even as Italy tops China’s death toll from the virus, the search is on in Europe for tech options as it scrambles to halt spiralling infections. On Wednesday, a team of experts at the University of Oxford announced they were working with several European governments to explore an app for instant contact tracing that could be deployed with “appropriate ethical considerations”.

       

      Tech Giants Unite?

      On Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied reports that the social networking giant is talking to the US government to share users’ location data from their smartphones. This, after US news agencies reported that the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are tapping tech companies like Facebook for users’ location data.

       

      Facebook had a Disease Prevention Map programme for almost a year, which it provided to health organisations around the world using location data from people who opt in.

       

      Google has also confirmed that it is also exploring ways to use aggregated, anonymized data to help in the coronavirus effort, while Apple denied having been part of the location data discussions with the US government.

       

      Call Tracing

      Trump’s is not the only administration to consider technology-based tracking. Israel this week passed a proposal to track coronavirus patients on a far more detailed level, using location tools meant for counterterrorism purposes.

       

      The country’s internal security agency was authorised to tap into a vast trove of cellphone data to retrace the movements of people who have contracted the coronavirus and identify others who should be quarantined because their paths crossed.

       

      The unprecedented move to use data secretly gathered to combat terrorism for public health efforts was debated for hours on Sunday by Banjamin Netanyahu’s holdover cabinet.

       

      Asia Shows The Way

      Taiwan’s centralised epidemic control centre has linked multiple government agencies and is using big data to look for potential carriers and monitor those quarantined.

       

      Smartphones with GPS are given to those isolated at home, with local officials tracking them via the Line messaging app.

       

      Warning text messages are sent to those who break quarantine and the tracking system is connected with local police departments. Transgressors risk a fine of up to TW$1 million ($33,000) and having their names published.

       

      South Korea has a similar app, although it is voluntary.

       

      Singapore has a team of dedicated digital detectives monitoring the quarantined as well as tracing where confirmed carriers have travelled to.

       

      China: One Step Ahead

      China, meanwhile, has gone ahead and deployed the most sweeping and invasive tech by far to rein in the virus.

       

      Various cities and provinces last month began introducing a system of coloured QR codes that must be downloaded on mobile phones to aid in tracking people’s movements.

       

      Green indicates a clean bill of health, yellow means the bearer may have visited a high-risk virus area within the past 14 days and is subject to closer inspection, while red indicates quarantine is necessary.

       

      There has been scant public explanation of how the information is obtained, other than vague references to big data, presumably by tracking a person’s history of online payments, which have rapidly replaced cash in China.

       

      Government announcements have made clear that the coding system will remain in use in some form even after the pandemic subsides.

       

      https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/how-far-is-too-far-invasive-tech-returns-under-coronavirus-cover/articleshow/74728751.cms

      “Fair Use For Education and Discussion Purposes”

      Loz :]

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