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The UK Government Can Now Use YOUR Personal Data to Track Coronavirus

By
Zahrah A
 - 
1 March 2020

In the UK, the government are now legally allowed to retrieve personal data from people's mobile devices to track and monitor behaviour to see if it helps to stop spreading the Coronavirus.

Just last week, the government were talking with UK mobile phone companies to use anonymous location and usage data to create movement maps. These movement maps will have a 12 - 24-hour delay to see whether the public is genuinely abiding by the quarantine rules.

Other governments such as China and Israel have active surveillance. This includes using citizens personal data and making infected people download an app on their smartphone so that their movements and contacts are revealed.

Other countries that have the tracking apps are Spain, Romania, Slovakia and Poland. So far, there isn't much that suggests that the UK will also make infected people download an app so that they can be tracked. But then the Government has never needed an app, have they?

personal data

What Did the ICO Say to Tracking Personal Data?

When responding to a question of potential nationwide smartphone monitoring, an Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) spokeswoman said that "The important thing is that data protection is not a barrier to sharing data". The spokesperson also said that public bodies may need additional sharing/collection of personal data against threats to public health. They also said that the data protection law enables the data sharing in the public interest and provides the safeguards for data that the public would expect.

Earlier in March, the ICO had said in an article published on the ICO website that the data protection and electronic communications laws do not stop the government and NHS from sending public health messages to people via phone, email or text.

Just last week, the US government was in talks with Facebook, Google and other tech companies. These talks were about how location data from American's phones that could be used to fight the spread of the pandemic.

Does this seem like a violation of privacy to you? Could this possibly be one step closer to full surveillance? If the government are able to constantly track us, do we have freedom? Stay safe!

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