U.S. Government Using Mobile Ad Location Data to Track Compliance With Curbs on Movement

The U.S. government is using smartphone location data from the mobile ad industry to track people's movements amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

low light filter iphone display
Local governments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have received the anonymized data about people in areas of "geographic interest," with the aim being to create a portal of geolocation information for 500 cities across the country.

The information will be used to learn how well people are complying with stay-at-home orders, according to WSJ. Citing an example, the report says researchers discovered large numbers of people were gathering in a New York City park, which led them to notify local authorities.

Even though the data is anonymized, WSJ says that privacy advocates want "strong legal safeguards" to limit how it can be used, in order to prevent its use for other purposes. Cellular carriers told the news outlet they have not been asked by the government to provide location data.

The development follows reports of other countries using cellphone data to monitor citizens and see if they are complying with curbs on movement to defeat the viral outbreak.

European mobile carriers have reportedly been sharing data with health authorities in Italy, Germany and Austria, while at the same time respecting Europe's privacy laws. Earlier this month, Israel passed emergency measures that allow security agencies to track the smartphone data of people with suspected COVID-19 and find others they may have come into contact with.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

mixel Avatar
24 months ago

Good. They'll see I don't care about their stupid "stay at home" BS.
I take it you don't know anyone who might be on immunosuppressants or elderly? Or anyone who knows anyone who is? Or anyone who works in the emergency services?

Follow your local advice or pressure them into legally enforcing it.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kabeyun Avatar
24 months ago

Good. They'll see I don't care about their stupid "stay at home" BS.
Right!!! To hell with science! It’s so inconvenient sometimes! I’m going with cocky jeremy! C’mon everyone, party at his place!!!!!!!
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sshambles Avatar
24 months ago
‘Oh I don’t care, I’ve got nothing to hide, they can do whatever they want with my data’ — Probably nobody anymore.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
deeddawg Avatar
24 months ago
Folks forget that the cell phone companies have been keeping this data for a very long time.

I sat on the jury for murder trial, and the murderer's cell phone records were in evidence. Every time the cell phone made or received a call, the records showed which antenna on which tower had communicated with the phone. Thus they showed an approximate location based on direction from the tower sites as he moved around the county that day.

This was in 2010. With a MVNO carrier and a flip phone.

With today's smart phones constantly sending and receiving internet data, rest assured your location is being recorded whether or not you've agreed to anything with an app.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Saturnine Avatar
24 months ago
The key word in this is 'anonymized.'

There's a world of difference between the Government tracking individuals to ensure their compliance, and using anonymised data to map trends.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Scottsoapbox Avatar
24 months ago
While also using the pandemic to call for the need for more surveillance to "protect" us.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Review: M1 Max MacBook Pro After Three Months

Wednesday January 19, 2022 11:30 am PST by
It's now been a few months since the M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pro models launched in October, and MacRumors video editor Dan Barbera has been using one of the new machines since they debuted. Over on the MacRumors YouTube channel, Dan has shared a three month review of his MacBook Pro to see how it has held up over time and how it's changed his workflow. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube ...
iphone se 2020 top

New iPhone SE Likely to Launch in April Based on Production Timeframe

Wednesday January 19, 2022 6:44 am PST by
Apple suppliers will begin producing display panels for the third-generation iPhone SE this month, with final assembly of the device likely to start in March, according to information shared by display industry consultant Ross Young. Based on this production timeframe, Young believes the third-generation iPhone SE is likely to launch in the second half of April, or perhaps in early May at...
AirPods 3 New Firmware Feature

Apple Updates AirPods 3 Firmware to Version 4C170

Tuesday January 18, 2022 11:46 am PST by
Apple today released a new 4C170 firmware update for the AirPods 3, an update from the prior 4C165 that was made available in December. Apple does not offer details on what's included in new firmware updates for the AirPods‌, so we don't know what improvements or bug fixes the new firmware brings. There is no standard way to upgrade the ‌AirPods‌‌ software, but firmware is...
iPad Air Feature 2 green

New Apple Products Filed in Regulatory Database, Likely Including New iPhone SE and iPad Air

Tuesday January 18, 2022 6:11 am PST by
Apple today filed unreleased iPhone and iPad models in the Eurasian Economic Commission database, as spotted by French blog Consomac. The filings likely represent the rumored third-generation iPhone SE, fifth-generation iPad Air, and potentially more. The unreleased iPhone models have the identifiers A2595, A2783, and A2784, while the unreleased iPad models have the identifiers A2588, A2589, ...
iphone 5g mmwave

U.S. Airlines Warn of 'Catastrophic' Crisis With Impending 5G Rollout, AT&T and Verizon Agree to Delay Around Airports

Tuesday January 18, 2022 10:35 am PST by
Verizon and AT&T's upcoming rollout of new C-Band 5G technology could cause chaos and lead to widespread delays of passenger and cargo flights, major U.S. airlines said on Monday in a letter sent to the White House National Economic Council, the FAA, and the FCC (via Reuters). "Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially...
microsoft office icons

Microsoft Releases Office for Mac Update With Full Apple Silicon Support in Excel

Tuesday January 18, 2022 4:15 am PST by
Microsoft has released a new version of its Office for Mac productivity suite that includes an updated Excel app with 100% native support for Apple silicon machines. According to the release notes accompanying version 16.57, Excel will now run natively on Macs powered by Apple's M1-series processors without having to use the Rosetta 2 translation layer, which means anyone using a Mac with an ...
appleeducation

Apple's US Education Store Now Requires Institution Verification to Buy Discounted Products

Wednesday January 19, 2022 2:22 am PST by
Apple is now requiring that customers in the United States verify that they're active students, teachers, or staff members at an educational institution in order to access education discounts on products. Previously, little verification was needed for customers to purchase products through Apple's education store in the United States. Apple's education stores offer models of the iPad and Mac ...
iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole thumb

ProMotion Now Expected to Remain Exclusive to iPhone 14 Pro Models, Not Expand to Entire Lineup

Sunday January 16, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Continuing the tradition set with the iPhone 13 Pro, only the highest-end iPhone 14 models will feature Apple's ProMotion display technology, according to a respected display analyst. Ross Young, who on multiple occasions has detailed accurate information about Apple's future products, said in a tweet that ProMotion will not be expanded to the entire iPhone 14 lineup and will remain...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID

Rumored iPhone 14 Pro Feature Delayed Until Next Year

Wednesday January 19, 2022 3:00 am PST by
Apple's long-rumored under-display Face ID technology will not be coming to the iPhone 14 Pro, according to recent reports. Based on the latest rumors, it now looks unlikely that the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max will feature Face ID technology under the display as several reports claimed over the past year. Display industry consultant Ross Young, who often reveals ...