Europe eyes smartphone location data to stem virus spread

Several European nations are evaluating powerful but potentially intrusive tools for fighting the coronavirus pandemic, a move that could put public health at odds with individual privacy.

The tools in question are apps that would use real-time phone-location data to track the movements of virus carriers and the people they come in contact with. The aim would be to develop a better sense of where infections are flaring up, how they are spreading and when health authorities need to order quarantines and related measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Britain, Germany and Italy are among the nations considering the enlistment of individual location data in the fight against the virus. That worries privacy advocates, who fear such ubiquitous surveillance could be abused in the absence of careful oversight, with potentially dire consequences for civil liberties.

Israel has already started tracking phones to prevent the spread of the disease.

with AP

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